Attention to simple…

by Kathryn Baldwin

It has been brought to my attention that my posts are too long. Normally I would argue that I am simply a long-winded person… a modern Proust. But something happened this week that made me think: can something short and simple provide an even more complex sort of comfort?

Here’s the story (it’s short… well short for me… I promise).


For years after my 5-year-old graduation from Forest Hills Preschool, my parents would honk the horn every time we drove past the school. And we would wave through the window as if to say “Hello again! We miss those carefree, preschool days!”

17 years later, last Sunday, my boyfriend was taking me on the scenic route to Target when suddenly he honked. I slapped my ponytail into the sides of my headrest, trying to find a manic, intrusive driver, when I suddenly spotted my old preschool’s fence shrinking in the right, sideview mirror. Letting out a gasp of excitement as though I were a Kindergartener all over again, I turned to look at my driver. “What?” He said as he leaked a proud, guilty smile and continued steering down the road.


One half honk—a slight beep really—and I was left to wonder: when, in these past five years, had I told him that my family maintained such a quirky tradition?! Who knows. Whenever it was, he remembered, and he put away his obsessive un-use of his horn just to let me know that he listens when I tell useless stories.

If one beep can provide decades of comfort, maybe petite ideas do pack heavy force. (I’ll try to work on applying this idea to creating shorter blogs. Just not today.) Now, I encourage you to find your simple comfort this week. Just, please, don’t go honking around town. Leave that to me.


In the spirit of simple comfort, I learned to make a creamy, oh-so-simple pinto bean puree soup  (inspired by my “Mamá” in Cuernavaca, who often began our comidas with this smooth, tummy warmer).

Sauté a chopped onion with a Serrano chile about five minutes. Add two minced garlic cloves to the pan and sauté another minute or so.

Pour in a 15oz can of pinto beans (plus the luscious liquid). Pour in a cup of vegetable broth. Salt and Pepper the beauty! Cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes.


Then, take out the chile, puree the soup until it’s smooth, and serve piping hot!

My Mexican Mamá used to chop corn tortillas into small, friable squares and set them to drain in a paper-toweled ceramic bowl. We would all take turns dropping baby, fried chips into our creamy bean soup, as though adorning a cake with rainbow sprinkles. My favorite thing to do, though, is to swirl Mexican Crema Casera onto the surface. The more I swirl the cream into the soup with my spoon as I eat, the more comforting and complex it feels.

(See Marcela Valladolid‘s “Mexican Made Easy” for other simple Mexican dishes like this one.)


3 Comments to “Attention to simple…”

  1. Looks good! Coincidentally I made soup this week too…with the cool creamy swirls too.

  2. I loved your little story this week! I forgot about the honking at that special place 🙂 So sweet that he not only remembers, but that he showed you. So sweet ❤

    I made a pureed bean soup a few weeks ago and it had way more ingredients than this… next time, I'll have to try this simple one and compare.

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