Pioneer Potluck: Mom and Bernie’s hat

Colorado vacation continued, 1996


After a wonderful visit with Jo Anne Wahlstrom in Buckley, Washington, we headed for Colorado - Jo Anne took us to SeaTac and we said our goodbyes.

The Denver International Airport is situated in the middle of a large cow pasture in the middle of nowhere, east of Denver. Bernie’s good friends from Erie, Lillian and Chuck picked us up and took me to Boulder where my sister, Ginger and Mom lived. Bernie went home with Lillian, who were her friends and neighbors before Bernie and King moved to Alaska.

My mother was so glad to see me in her own fashion, frail, old and suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer’s, she was full of big smiles.

I unpacked the next morning and showed mom a hat that Bernie had made for me out of purple flower material. It had a rim that could be bent in various shapes. She made a big purple fabric rose and tucked it on the side of the brim.

Mom fell in love with the hat! 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 my dresser next to my bedroom door. I looked up just in time to see an old wrinkled hand with the crooked finger, grab the hat. Mom poked her head in the door of the bedroom, jammed the hat on her fuzzy gray haired head and skipped ran down the hall laughing “Tee heee! Teeehee!” She pulled out a chair, sat down at the table and started eating her oatmeal with the hat on. If I came near her she would grab the rim of the hat, pull it down over her ears and say with a grin, “It’s mine!”

She wore that hat off and on each day I was there. We had so much fun with that purple hat. When I packed my suitcase to leave, the purple hat was in her bedroom. I told her she could have it. “Thank you, thank you!” she said with a big grin. I have the feeling that was hers from the very first day.

When she passed away, my great niece Kaylie wore it and then sent it to me. I wore it off and on and gave it to Gail to wear and then to Susan so she could wear Grandma’s hat.

I treasure the memory of my mom and the purple hat. Thank you Bernie for the wonderful memories.

Make sure you make memories every day. They are important!

The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self-taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at


I collect rhubarb recipes and I just found this one in the Feast of Goodness written by the Redoubt Homemakers of Nikiski.

1 cup butter

1 cup brow sugar

1 cup white sugar

3 eggs beaten

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup heaped finely cut rhubarb

1 cup shopped walnuts

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp each, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Cream butter and sugars. Mix well and add eggs and vanilla, rhubarb and walnuts. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. I can hardly wait for rhubarb time in Alaska!


1 1/2 cups hot coffee

1/2 cup chocolate semi sweet chips

Combine hot coffee with chips and stir until chips are melted. Set aside

Combine in large bowl:

3 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

Mix till well blended-set aside.

In a mixer bowl beat:

3 eggs beat until yellow

3/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

The coffee-chocolate mixture

Add the flour combination and mix at medium until just combined. Divide batter in 2 well oiled pans. Bake at 300 degrees (yes) for 45 to 55 minutes. Test to see if done in middle. Cool on rack.

Double Trouble Frosting

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk

2 tsp sugar

2 tblsp corn syrup

1/4 up butter

Bring to boil, stirring all the time the milk, sugar and syrup. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, whipping until melted and smooth. Stir in butter and stir until smooth. Chill in bowl about 30 minutes until spreadable. Spread on cake and Chill in refrigerator until serving. From my cookbook “Eat Dessert First.”


I have no idea who sent this to me —Thank you!

1 five pound chicken or turkey parts-put in large pot and cover with water. ( Or large crock pot) Simmer until meat is done. Take off bones and return meat to pot. Put in the rest of ingredients.

6 chopped garlic cloves

1 medium sized peeled ginger root sliced

12 carrots-peeled and sliced

6 stalks of celery sliced

3 medium yellow or white potatoes-large diced

3 large onions chopped

2 jalapeno’s or a small shake of red pepper

1 bunch of parsley

1 teasp each, dry oregano,rosemary and sage

Salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer all day on wood stove or in crock pot. Add good egg noodle. Cook until done.

Serve in a large soup bowl on a cold snowy winter night with good hot garlic bread.