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HGTV star Erin Napier keeps her Mammaw's memory alive with her recipes

Napier is the self-identified "official keeper of the Rasberry family biscuit secrets."
Celebrities Visit Build - January 8, 2020
Erin Napier speaks at an event in New York City on Jan. 8, 2020.Manny Carabel / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

It's often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and HGTV star Erin Napier definitely understands this on her show, "Hometown." The series stars Napier and her husband Ben as they work to restore historic homes in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi.

In a recent article for Southern Living, Napier opened up about how she preserves her own family history through food. She explained how after her grandfather had died, she'd spent the weekend with her "Mammaw" and asked her to teach her how to cook.

"That was the weekend I asked her to teach me the secrets of biscuit making," she explained. "Her instructions weren't quantifiable: 'Pour in the buttermilk until it looks about like this,' she said. I wrote down my closest estimates so I would have proof, since I was now the official keeper of the Rasberry family biscuit secrets."

Napier's grandmother, Ouida Walters Rasberry, taught her several more family recipes like spicy rice and tomato gravy — both of which hold a special place in Napier's heart.

After Rasberry's death in May 2020, Napier said they discovered two ceramic canisters "stuffed to the brim with her recipes that were scribbled on any paper she'd had handy."

Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV's Home Town
Erin and Ben Napier, the stars of HGTV's "Home Town," welcomed their second daughter in May 2020.Meggan Haller / The Washington Post via Getty Images

"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," Napier explained. "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."

After discovering the treasure trove of recipes, Napier said she scanned all of them into the computer and created a chapter book for her family.

"Last year, I gave The Book of Ouida to everyone in our family for Christmas," she concluded. "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."

Erin and Ben Napier, who welcomed their second child together, daughter Mae Napier on May 28, have talked previously about how they try to put their family first. The two, who also share a 3-year-old daughter, Helen, told People in December 2020 that they "say no to a lot."

"For 18 years we get to be an influence in (Helen's) life. I want those years to be really good and happy and healthy, because we can never get them back," she said. "No matter how great an opportunity or amount of money, nothing is worth missing out on memories together."

In an episode of fellow HGTV personalities Linda and Drew Scott's podcast, Napier added that having kids had "changed everything" for her and Ben.

"It makes it very easy to say no. I don't ever feel guilty...(about) saying no," she explained. "If we say yes to this, we're saying no to time with her. She's only going to be little for a little while."