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.
Pasta roller, no doubt. I would absolutely love to be able to make fresh pasta.
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.
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 I don't find myself using a chef's knife to stab much, thus the very pointy end is obsolete (that's why I have a boning knife and paring knife).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.
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.
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 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."