What to do with Side Pork?

It's very similar to bacon, and as such can be used like bacon. Make a gravy with it, or do a saute with some vegetables. If you have a really big slab, try could try a brine or a rub and smoking it low and slow.

If you could have one cooking item...

Pasta roller, no doubt. I would absolutely love to be able to make fresh pasta.

Aaargh mussels!

I never soak because the best mussels have already been sitting in water before you buy them. I buy fresh from the market, usually Penn Cove. But because some idiot parked his derelict boat in Penn Cove and left it to spill all its gas and sink, the ecosystem in Penn Cove is all messed up. No more Penn Cove mussels for a while. A simple rinse under cold water in a colander for a minute or two should do the trick, as well as a de-bearding. You should try west coast mussels though - very different: less sweet, a bit meatier, and quite rich. And please, don't buy cultivated: wild is always the way to go in terms of seafood.

Chinese Cleaver Conundrums

Thanks guys! I bought a Dexter-Russel Chinese Cleaver and it works wonderfully. I love it!

In response to "why use a cleaver as a primary knife?", I have a few answers: Chinese cleavers are very different from your regular cleaver. The blade is thinner, sharper, and better suited for all the duties of a chefs knife. Although the weight behind a Chinese cleaver is greater than a chefs knife, this does not mean one should hack through bones with them: it damages the blade. I like the Chinese cleaver better because of the weight and balance. It works better in my hand than a chefs knife, and I find myself using it to pick up whatever I've chopped and transfer it to a pot or pan. I don't find myself using a chef's knife to stab much, thus the very pointy end is obsolete (that's why I have a boning knife and paring knife). That combined with the fact that I'm finding it easier to care for my cleaver than my other knives (i.e. I don't have to do such careful sharpening because the blade is thicker and more durable) makes it an ideal knife for me.

Cookbook recommendation needed!

Guiliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta is absolutely wonderful. I've been cooking for years, and I still find his recipes some of the simplest, easiest, and tastiest pastas I've made.

National eat what you want day?

I made myself a really nice chicken cacciatore with a few extra chicken pieces and some pantry staples. Then I went out for dinner to a Thai place and had some amazing steamed fish and currry.

You know you're in a family who cooks when...

You know you're in a family that cooks when your grandparents are lingering over dessert and you keep thinking to yourself, "I hope they leave soon so I can gorge myself on the rest of those chocolate rum balls."

Need to find an Asian/Indian Grocery Store in Portland

Being a college student in Portland, I like to have all of my grocery needs met nearby downtown. Are there any notable grocery stores downtown that carry Asian products, like kinchi, galangal, shrimp paste, etc.? I'm just looking for a place to get some of the more obscure items not carried at a regular grocery store.

Pasta roller that doesn't permanently attach to the counter

I've just started to learn how to make fresh pasta, and I absolutely love it. Problem is, it's a pain to roll out the dough by hand every time. I've been looking at pasta rollers, but a lot of them seem to be screwed into counters fairly permanently. For someone who moves around a lot, this would be terribly inconvenient. Are there any good pasta rollers that do no need to be screwed into a counter top permanently?

Chinese Cleaver Conundrums

I've been toying with the idea of getting a Chinese Cleaver to replace my nightmare of a chefs knife. Can anyone recommend a good brand, or any specific things to look for when shopping for a cleaver?

Gourmet Soda Suggestions

I've been looking around for some new gourmet sodas, but I've run into a wall where I've tried nearly everything on the shelves of my grocery store. Do you have any gourmet soda suggestions?

What to serve with roasted duck breast?

I have just discovered the amazingness of Pan Roasted Duck Breast! Trouble is, I'm swamped with all the possible combinations of things to put with it. Is there some sort of sauce or side that would make the duck really stand out? Thanks!