HGTV's Erin Napier created a special cookbook featuring her late grandmother's hand-written recipes shortly after she died

By Abigail Adams
July 14, 2021 03:05 PM
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Erin Napier
Credit: Erin Napier/Instagram

Erin Napier's late grandmother lives on through her delicious food.

After losing Ouida Walters Rasberry last May, the Home Town star, 35, created a cookbook filled with her old handwritten recipes. In a recent piece for Southern Living, she opened up about the special connection she built with her grandmother in the kitchen.

Their bond took off when Napier was in high school, while she was visiting Ouida for the weekend after her Pappaw's death. After a quick dance party to loosen up, Napier got a crash course on some of her grandmother's favorite recipes: biscuits and spicy rice and tomato gravy.

"I took for granted that we would have time to cook like this again. She was healthy, her mind was sharp, and the weekends stretched out in front of us," Napier wrote.

Ouida had a stroke in 2008 and lost much of her ability to speak. Napier had just graduated from Mississippi State University and was engaged to her husband, Ben, at the time.

Napier said that's when reality hit her. "As I was about to become a wife, I realized how badly I wanted to know all of those untold recipes," she wrote. "I felt a new wave of grief in realizing that chance was gone, even if we still had her with us."

After her stoke, Napier said Ouida eventually was able to string sentences together with the relatively small vocabulary she managed to relearn. She managed to live alone and prepared her own meals for a few years "even if she couldn't remember all the steps," she added.

Ouida's health declined once again in 2015 and she was eventually moved to assisted living after ministrokes became more frequent. Napier went looking for her grandmother's hand-written recipes but came up empty until after her death in 2020 when she discovered them in two ceramic canisters.

"They were all there: the peanut brittle, Jim's favorite Christmas cake, spaghetti and meatballs, and her famous creamy layered dessert called Chocolate Delight—a simple and frequent character on her dinner table alongside the hand-battered fried chicken and butter beans," she wrote in Southern Living. "It felt like she was alive and well and giving us this one final gift that would carry on in us and our children and their children."

When her grandmother passed, Napier paid tribute to Ouida with a heartfelt post on Instagram. "My sweet grandmother went to heaven today," she captioned the photograph.

After creating the cookbook to honor her grandmother, Napier gave a copy of "The Book of Ouida" to every member of her family in hopes of keeping her memory alive.

"This year, I expect we'll have a buffet of all her recipes at our holiday dinner, and when we hear 'Blue Christmas' on the radio and sing it loud enough, we'll hear her and Pappaw joining in, too, with an off-pitch piano accompanying us all," wrote Napier.

To see more of Mammaw's handwritten recipes visit southernliving.com.