Now then…what shall we talk about?

I’ve gotten a little work done on Planitia, but not enough to merit an update. Instead, I’ve been doing two things:

1. Cooking. I recently made duck for the first time. It was also the first time I’d ever eaten duck. I used this recipe, but I didn’t have time to brine the duck. I just steamed it and then pan-seared it.

It was excellent. The meat was a bit tougher than chicken – almost like turkey – but the flavor was stupendous. Especially the skin and the fattier parts of the bird. They were succulent.

Bolstered by my success with the duck, I decided to finally purchase a food processor. I’ve been wanting one for ages but either didn’t have the spare money or couldn’t figure out which one to buy. My restrictions were:

1. 7-10 cup bowl size. My kitchen counters are ridiculous tiny and I don’t have the space for a bigger one.

2. Bottom-mounted motor; direct-drive motor mounting. These are the most reliable and efficient kinds of processors.

3. Exactly two speeds – on and pulse. More buttons than that merely leads to confusion.

4. Price range: $75 to $100.

I’d despaired of finding a processor that met all four of those requirements (especially number 4) until a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond turned up this little number on special for $99.

Now if that looks familiar, it’s because it’s the processor Cuisinart’s been making for decades. Look at the plain white case and the sharp angles on the base – it’s a throwback right to the 70’s, and a few years back Cuisinart stopped making it. They introduced sleek new models with curves and chrome and lots of buttons and people hated them – they took up more counter space, weren’t as reliable and were harder to use.

Thus, the reappearance of the Pro Classic. I got exactly what I wanted – a perfectly usable, reliable food processor for under $100. Go me!

And for its inaugural food I tried to make lemon cheesecake. I completely messed it up; when all was said and done, it was a little done around the edges of the pan but almost completely raw in the middle. So I spooned it into a bowl and now it’s lemon custard. I’m sure it’ll come out better next time.

2. Playing World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Blizzard did a great job with the starting areas of the two new races and smoothed out lots of the little annoyances of creating a new character. Bags now drop much more often and you’ll usually get a bag or two as a quest reward. The money progression seems to be better since I haven’t run into a case yet where I haven’t had the money to train upon reaching a new level. And you can actually grind the Cooking skill up to about 40 with ingredients you can buy.

The quest lines are also showing some inventiveness. On the Draenei side you will get a quest around level 11 or 12 that will allow you to ride an epic mount for 15 minutes. That’s an excellent way of giving new players a taste of what they’ll get if they stick with their characters. The Blood Elf side has some pretty cool stuff too – I was shocked when I discovered exactly how it became possible for Blood Elves to be Paladins.

And, of course, pretty. Pretty pretty. Silvermoon, the BE city, is particularly gorgeous…I almost wish I lived there.

Of course, once you get a character of either new race to about level 20 you’re thrown out into the rest of Azeroth, which you’re intimately familiar with if you’re a longtime player like me. The two new races and starting areas do not justify the expansion’s $40 price tage by themselves. Nor does Jewelcrafting, which is interesting but in the end is just another crafting skill (and they didn’t even introduce a new gathering skill to go along with it).

No, what would be worth my $40 would be if I could pull my 60 Paladin, Surago, out of retirement.

I mentioned how deeply disappointed I became with World of Warcraft once my character hit 60. The game became a slot machine rather than a linear progression, and I was unlucky enough to choose a profession (blacksmithing) that doesn’t really allow you make a lot of money unless you raid, which I simply do not have time for. If Burning Crusade will allow me to solo from 60 to 70 and use my skills to actually make enough money so I can buy the stuff I need to do my epic mount quest, I’ll consider it $40 well spent.

But I don’t know if it’ll do that yet because I’ve spent almost all my time on my new characters. I have gone to Outland and I know that there are soloable quests in Hellfire Peninsula, the starting zone, but I don’t know if that progresses all the way through Outland. And I’m not sure what raising my blacksmithing and mining to 375 will do for me yet from a monetary perspective.

Oh, but one thing I did truly enjoy was listening to the howls of indignation from people who have played for years only to discover that fairly common drops in Outland were equal or superior in quality to the epic sets they spent months grinding to get. Made me feel justified in not going down that path. Laziness pays off again!

So I don’t have a final verdict on Burning Crusade yet. I need to not let it interfere with Planitia, so I’ll probably just play it on the weekends.