I don't know what it is about newspapers, but they must think their readers have unlimited time and money to cook the recipes they feature in their pages.

Most of us, we have jobs. We don't want to come home and spend hours fixing something that can easily be bought at Sam's or Costco or the corner gas station. Not to mention the cleanup afterward. Also, if I fill my refrigerator with food, where am I going to keep my beer?

The recipes always seem to require a cornucopia of ingredients that you probably don't have and will never use again. I don't think Jesus multiplied the fishes into a number that high. It just seems to me that newspapers should acknowledge that we live in a different world now, and there's no longer enough hours in the day for us to prepare these extravagant meals.

Recently, my local newspaper printed something by The Culinary Institute of America. By recently, I mean I'm too lazy to look up the actual date. It was an article on how to cook Mole Poblano.

The recipe, if you can call it that since it's about the same length as Moby Dick, required twenty-six-TWENTY-SIX!-different ingredients. The Institute assured it's readers it would only take an approximate three hours to prepare and cook from start to finish. That much and that long just to feed eight people.

Five, if you include my mother-in-law.

The way I figure it, the time the article says the dish requires to prepare is a best-case scenario, because I know for an average guy like me it would take closer to six hours, maybe more. Six hours, because you have to factor in the time I'll spend driving to Walmart.

Why Walmart?

Because I'm cheap.

Anyway, in addition to that, there's my wandering around lost, going up and down the food aisles, searching for the ingredients I don't have, which is ALL of them, and finally ending my adventure standing in a long checkout line, stuck behind someone with their shopping cart filled to overflowing, because I always have at least one item too many to enter the Ten Items Or Less line.

Throwing good sense to the wind, I decided to surprise my wife and cook her an early Valentine's Day dinner. She LOVES mole, so I knew it would be a real treat for her. She might even desire to reward me later with an early Valentine's Day present of her own, if you get my drift.

If you don't, that's okay, too.

So I left to purchase what I needed. As it turned out, the total came to $94.93.

For ONE meal!

I opened my wallet and saw a lonely moth fly out. Once home, I had to find all the required measuring equipment and cooking utensils. With twenty-six ingredients to prepare, what were the odds I had all the necessary equipment?

Turns out, I didn't.

Once back from Walmart, after buying the one cooking tool I didn't have, I began to prepare my twenty-five ingredients.

Twenty-five?

Darn.

Okay, I'm back.

I began to prepare my twenty-six ingredients.

If there's one thing in life I've learned, it's that everything takes longer than it's supposed to. That was especially true in this case. When I was done and the mole was simmering, I put the leftover ingredients away for when I might have an occasion to use them again. In other words, I'll be throwing them away a year from now.

My father shuffled over to take a look.

"What are you doing?" he wanted to know.

"I'm making dinner," I told him.

"I'm not eating that," he told me back.

This, from a man who used to catch and cook lizards in the Philippine jungle during World War Two.

My wife seemed to enjoy my efforts.

"It's good," she said, just before excusing herself to go throw up in the bathroom.

She thoughtfully only spent half the time in the bathroom than she did when she got Montezuma's Revenge on our last vacation out of the country. As it turns out, you really aren't supposed to drink the water in Mexico.

I put what was left over into my father's dog's food dish. Dogs will eat anything. Anything, that is, except my cooking. He took one sniff, and then waddled out of the kitchen. If he had fingers, I'm sure he would have done something interesting with one of them.

By the end of the affair, I was disheartened. With the amount of time and money I spent, I would have been better off taking my lovely wife out for a nice dinner at her favorite restaurant. No fuss. No muss. No reason to cuss.

By being romantic I had the whole kitchen to clean up, dishes to wash, and an empty bank account to replenish. Not to mention a wife politely trying to keep her volume in our bathroom on low so it wouldn't interrupt my father's television viewing.

She's thoughtful that way.

Briefly, I wondered if she'd fall for the old "I cooked, you clean."

Probably not.

Well, chalk that one up to experience.

I looked around for some cleaning supplies.

Darn.

I had to go back to Walmart.