Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Japanese Beetles

At the Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards luncheon today Ilana Bittner asked me what I do with a new jar of peanut butter after I use it for the first time.

“I put it back on the shelf in the pantry. Where else would I put it?”

“The refrigerator.”

Jessie Newburn, chimed in “Only if it’s the fresh kind.”

Jessie had invited Ilana and I, as well as her hubby Dave, Heather Kirk Davidoff, Susan Coughlin, Frank Hecker, and Robin Abello, to share her table at the noon time affair. We were the hocoblogs table.

This lunch is a pretty big deal. It was held in one of the bigger assembly rooms at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center and the loco politicos were drawn to it like moths to a flame, as least the Dem politicos that is. Our county exec was there as well as council chair Courtney Watson and her council colleagues Calvin Ball, Mary Kay Sigaty, and Jen Terrasa. The Gen Assem Dems were all there too, Senators Robey and Kasemeyer, Delegates Bobo, Turner, Guzzone and Pendergrass.

I asked Ken what he does with his peanut butter after using it for the first time.

“I put it in the refrigerator,” he told me.

Ilana, who is Jewish, suspects this might be a Jewish thing.

“I would think it would make the peanut butter too hard to spread evenly on the bread," I offered.

“It tears up the bread too,” hubby Dave chimed in. He should know. He lives in a house where the peanut butter is kept in the refrigerator.

After the lunch I was standing in the lobby talking to Mary Kay and Calvin when Jen strode up.

She says she hasn’t given up on convincing me that I’m wrong about her. I told her I readily admit it when I get something wrong but that I’ve also known Dennis Schrader longer than her and happen to think he’s one of the best candidates in the field right now.

And that encounter made me think it’s time to make another endorsement. I had planned to do that today but when I got home a crisis was developing in the deciduous trees I have so lovingly planted in my yard. The beetles had arrived.

Every year the Japanese beetle appears on the scene about this time and goes to town on my trees. I had been watching for them for the past few weeks. I was ready for them.

So now that the first wave of the insect invaders has been beaten back I was able to retreat to my inner sanctum and write. For now though I’ll put off the endorsement post until tomorrow. Right now I’m going to fix myself a little peanut butter sandwich.


PZGURU said...

You "readily admit when you're wrong"?????????
SURELY YOU JEST!!!!!!!! WB - seriously, stop flattering yourself so much.

ilana Bittner said...

For the record... we don't keep PB in the fridge, but my mom did when I was a kid. I asked her about it yesterday and she claimed the Skippy packaging says to refrigerate. I cehcked it out on's "Ask Skippy":

Do I have to refrigerate?

Unopened and opened jars of peanut butter may be stored at room temperature; refrigeration is not necessary.

Keep the jar tightly closed and store in a cool place. Storage temperature affects product quality.

Excessive heat will accelerate the loss of fresh flavor and cause oil separation. Cold temperatures, even above freezing, can change peanut butter's consistency, texture, and thickness.

Peanut butter may be refrigerated to retain the product's optimum flavor, but it will not be as easy to spread. Freezing is not recommended.

Dave Bittner said...

I'm sure Jessie is just as surprised as I am to find out we're married. (5th paragraph.)

And as my lovely bride has said, no, we do not keep peanut butter in the fridge. We are one of those wonderful Columbia mixed marriages, she coming from a Jewish family, me from a Catholic one (so our children are growing up in an environment of both guilt AND shame) and the placement of peanut butter was non-negotiable.

Also, neither ketchup or mayonnaise require refrigeration, other than for flavor preference.

KAL said...

While I'm sure peanut butter is a pressing topic in this day and age, it would have been nice to see the column at least acknowledge the exceptional people honored at this Audrey Robbins luncheon (your column link was about last year's winners). For the record: Congratulations Donna Wells, NAMI-Howard County, Kathy Dugan and Susan Rosenbaum. Read more about them at or on ACS' Facebook Page.

Professor said...

Well, dang! I walked into the middle of the peanut butter conversation at the Audrey Robbins event, offered a very significant comment (to my thinking) about organic peanut butter needing refrigeration, and I get no mention in this blog post? What am I, chopped liver?
And,... the luncheon was the 35th annual Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards. It's a big deal because it celebrates, not only the people and organizations that have helped to improve the quality of life for all Howard County residents, but also the unique partnership that exists in this county between nonprofits, faith-based organizations, government, and for-profit organizations. Glad you could come WB.

jessiex said...

My friend Carrie -- with many years in the food industry -- says most Americans' taste definition of peanuts and peanut butter leans toward rancid. So, perhaps Ilana's mom was right on.

Dennis, thanks again for coming out to the luncheon, along with a chunk of the local blogger posse. And, yes, I was a bit surprised to discover I have a husband I didn't know about. Mercy! ... as I'm fond of saying.