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Image by Alyson McPhee

Hannah's Pot of Generosity

(c) Linda Hutchison April 2020

Hannah races up the street in her catering van, passing first an elderly man leaning on his walking stick, a young mother with her pram, and then a middle-aged man running steadily along the footpath. They each look at her van as its shadow overtakes them and shake their heads with incredulity.

“Hannah’s at it again,” chuckles the elderly man to the new mum as they pass each other.

The mum laughs, nodding her agreement and continues her stroll.

Hannah swerves awkwardly around a cyclist and then brakes heavily at the lights. Glancing at the time, she frowns. She’s promised to deliver the three dozen pies behind her by 5 o’clock and it’s 4:48pm. Her heart’s beating overtime and she glares at Google Maps as if to will it into giving her an extra 15 minutes. Her fingers drum an impatient beat on the steering wheel as the lights seemingly take forever to change. Her right foot pounces when the green light appears, and she accelerates at a rate impressive even to a drag racer. A young couple in their small sedan see her coming in the rear-vision mirror and pull over to give way. Hannah mentally thanks them, assuming they’ve reached their destination.

“That was close,” murmurs the passenger to the driver.

They both stare as she races down the hill towards the Provedore. Her van flings around the corner and into the delivery area behind the store.

“Hannah makes the only pies I know that have G-force as an ingredient,” quips the driver back to the passenger.

Hannah leaps out of her van and throws open its back doors with a sigh of relief, reaching for the crate of pies. The owner of the Provedore also sighs with relief, but not until after Hannah leaves, because Hannah has taken her overwhelming sense of urgency with her. He thankfully waves her goodbye and watches her disappear up the hill.

At home, Hannah hurries into her cottage to feed her cats and budgies. She dons her running gear, grabs the dog leash and harnesses her pair of Whippets. Five minutes later the three of them are flying along the track that follows the river. Every few minutes she glances at her watch to see if any messages, emails or calls have come in. Her watch reassures her that she is close to the maximum recommended heartrate. With her head down, she fails to see a lady with her stiff-jointed grizzled old Labrador, and they collide into a tangled furry mess on the bitumen. The dogs are mercifully unharmed, but Hannah’s ankle is badly twisted and the lady, whose name she learns is Miriam, has injured her wrist and fallen heavily on her hip. They ring for an ambulance and phone Miriam’s friend to collect the dogs.

“You’re Hannah, the baker, aren’t you?”

“How do you know?” quizzes Hannah, puzzling at the stranger’s knowledge.

“Everyone here knows of Hannah’s Pies – especially the Bolognese ones.”

Hannah nods. “Oh yes, it’s my mother’s secret recipe. There’s a trick to making the sauce thick enough to work in a pie. She says it’s been handed down for four generations.” She flinches as she adjusts her position on the ground and pain spikes through her ankle.

“It’s our family favourite. We have it every Sunday lunch after church with peas and mash,” smiles the lady.

“Well you might not get it this week. Who knows what I’ll do with my ankle all bunged up like this!” Hannah sighs in pain and exhaustion. She continues chatting to Miriam who, despite her injuries, is listening attentively. Hannah finds herself opening up.

“You know, Miriam, I’m really tired. I’ve been working so hard.”

“And you help the Food Relief Angels?”

“Oh yes, on Sundays I make up a huge batch of Spaghetti Bolognese and divide it up into meals for the week ahead.”

“Tell me how you make your Bolognese sauce – without the secrets. It will take your mind off your ankle.”

“Well, I start by browning garlic in olive oil, then some good quality pancetta. You have to remove the garlic,” Hannah emphasizes.

“You don’t want it caramelised,” agrees Miriam.

“Then I make a soffritto with onion, carrots and celery.”

“You add a bay leaf?”

“Definitely. Then I brown the mince.”


“Well, that may or may not be part of the secret.” Hannah attempts a smile, which is somewhat contorted by her discomfort.

“We’ll call it mince then.” Miriam adjusts her position too and winces slightly, but Hannah’s lost in her recipe.

“Then I add tomato paste, wine, stock and herbs, and a few other things.”

“It really is amazing. Any other tips?”

“Well, I let it sit for a day for the flavours to mature. That way, you get the full depth of richness in the pie. And I make the pastry the day before too, so it has time to rest.”

“It doesn’t shrink so badly then, does it?”

“It sounds like you know what you’re talking about.” Hannah looks more closely at Miriam, who smiles gently back at her.

“I’ve been known to make a pie or two. You know, Hannah, I think I might have a recipe for you. I’ll email it through when I get home.”

“Thanks Miriam.” Hannah frowns slightly because well-meaning villagers frequently offer her details of their special creations. She doesn’t expect Miriam’s recipe to be particularly noteworthy.

At this point, two ambulances arrive, and the paramedics attend to Hannah and Miriam. The dogs are collected, and the ladies are whisked off to the local hospital for treatment. Miriam goes home after being patched up, but Hannah’s ankle is fractured and requires surgery. The following day she is resting in her hospital bed when a generous bunch of flowers, clearly from a home garden, is delivered along with a card. As she opens the card, a slip of paper falls onto her lap and she unfolds it. The card is from Miriam, and the slip of paper reads as follows:

Hannah’s Pot of Generosity

Weekly Ingredients:

1 soffritto of connectedness – spend time mingling with friends

2 heaped portions of creativity – explore new recipes and techniques

3 level days of giving – not too much, not too little

4 km of attentive exercise – watch your steps 😊

5 quiet hours of mindful rest – allow time for the tension to dissipate and flavour to develop


Fill your pot with the ingredients above, remembering to stick to the ratios.

Balance perfectly for a well-rounded pot of generosity that never runs out.

Hannah smiles to herself and thinks this is one recipe she should add to her repertoire.


Hannah's Pot of Generosity: Work
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