My mother had just passed away. I was in the Bay Area to close up her apartment, and her 85-year-old best friend, Betty Badgett, invited me over for lunch. I've always loved Betty's cooking: a country girl who moved to California from Oklahoma in the late 1940s, she's always seemed to reconnect with her roots by preparing the kind of good old-fashioned food she grew up with, incorporating fresh vegetables and herbs from the gardens that surround her house. When I arrived for lunch, there was roast beef, mashed potatoes, stewed lima beans with fresh sage, a salad of iceberg lettuce, warm biscuits, and lots of good butter. For dessert, a homemade blackberry pie. There was a pitcher of ice water filled with lemon slices; the lemons had come from the decades-old Meyer lemon tree in Betty's backyard. I probably ate three times as much food as I should have, but how could I not? That delicious lunch was the perfect way to honor my mom, who would have loved everything about it.
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