Pioneer Potluck: About mom's purple hat

About 1995-96


I would like to call your attention to something that is dear to me and my families heart. Our Mom and her sister died of complication from Alzheimer’s. Mom, Loretta, died in 1999 at the age of 84 and Aunt Ruth died in 2003 at the age of 85. Their last ten years were not a quality of life that these two loving people gave to their families ALL their adult life. They were robbed of their memory’s of loved ones. And the loved ones were robbed of the pleasant loving Mom’s they once were. The Thief - Alzheimer’s!

I visited Mom several times while she was living with my sister, Ginger in Boulder, Colorado. Ginger took loving care of her after Mom had to sell her house and move to Boulder. Mom eventually ended up in Colorado Spring where my brother Jim and his wife Sandy, took care great of her until she died in 1999.

I went to visit around 1994 in Boulder. Mom was so glad to see me in her own fashion. Frail and old, suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer’s, but full of smiles.

While I was unpacking I showed her a hat the my friend Bernie had made for me with purple flowers and a brim that could be bent into various shapes. It had a big fabric rose on the side. Mom fell in love with it. I wore it, she wore it, I wore it, she took it off my head and put it on hers. We played the hat game all day.

The next morning the purple hat was resting on the dresser just inside my bedroom. I looked up just in time to see an old wrinkled hand with a crooked finger, grab the hat. Mom poked her head in the door, jammed the hat on her fuzzy grey haired head and skip-ran down the hall, laughing, “tee hee tee hee.” She pulled out a chair and sat down at the table to eat her oatmeal with the purple hat setting on her head. If I came near her she would grab the brim and pull the hat down around her ears and with smiling eyes and a big grin, telling me, “It’s mine!”

She wore the hat off and on each day I was there. We had so much fun with the purple hat. When I left, the hat was in her bedroom and I told her she could have it. A big grin came across her face, she hugged the hat said “Thank you!” I had the feeling that the hat was hers the very first day I arrived.

After she died, my brother Jim’s daughter, Kaylee wore it and had a picture taken of her and Moms Purple Hat. Her brother Nick had a picture taken wearing Dads cowboy hat. I have those pictures. They sent the hat back to me and I wore it off and on, until I gave it to Susan so she could wear.”Grandma’s Purple Hat.”

I treasure these memories of Mom and the purple hat.

September is Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Find a place in your community to honor those who silently slipped away from us. My sister, Elaine and her girls walk for Alzheimer’s in LaSalle-Greeley Colorado. They have done this years - I am so grateful to them.

A portion of the sale of my cookbooks go to Alzheimer’s research each year.


The Purple Hat

Ann McClure Berg, Nikiski 2004


Mom so frail and tiny

Eyes dull, once they were

Bright and shining.

I prefer to remember her

In her kitchen, baking

Cookies, cake and pies

I prefer to remember her

Wearing the Purple Hat

With an Impish grin,

Skipping down the hall

Holding onto the brim,

Telling me once again

About the Purple Hat

“It’s Mine!”


She has an eye for good recipes

2 cups of sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup chopped onions

1 tblsp butter

1 envelope Hollandaise sauce mix-prepared OR in a pinch use cream of mushroom soup

8 oz lasagna noodles, cooked

1 lb. chicken, cooked and thinly sliced or diced

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp each basil and oregano-divded

1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese-divded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese for top

1 cup steamed broccoli OR 1 can asparagus-drained

Sautee mushrooms and onions. in butter. Prepare Hollandaise using directions on envelope.  OR the can of cream of mushroom soup-undiluted. Spread a small amount of sauce in bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  Layer half noodles and chicken.  Sprinkle half the basil and oregano, sprinkle half the Mozzarella cheese. Arrange all broccoli or asparagus over cheese.  Repeat layers of noodles, chicken, salt and pepper.

Hollandaise sauce, herbs and cheese.  

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake 350% for 35 to 45 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.  You can make this the day before.  Ham or a combination of ham and chicken can be used.  

Serve with green salad and warm bread sticks


Prepare a box of two-layer cake mix - yellow or white, according to directions of box

1 cup sugar

1 cup cream - or 1 can of canned milk

4 to 5 cups of finely sliced rhubarb

Pour prepared cake in a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Spread rhubarb over top of batter.  Sprinkle sugar over rhubarb.

Pour cream or canned milk over top.

Bake according to cake mix. It may take longer.

Loosen edges with knife and invert on a serving tray.   

Vanilla ice cream sure is good on this!


Pop and keep warm 6 quarts of popped corn

In a large saucepan, place:

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light Karo syrup

1/2 tsp salt

Bring to boil and remove from heat


1 tsp soda

1 tsp vanilla

Stir and pour over popped corn, stirring and folding corn until well coated.  Put on cookie sheet and bake 250% for one hour.  Stir every 15 minutes.

I know that Sandy has made tons of this and so have I.  Gave away another ton!