Farmers' Guest House blog
October 17th, 2014

Do Something Nouveau this November

It’s that time of year again in Galena and, if you’ve never been, we are inviting you to do something Nouveau this November. If you are a Galena Nouveau regular, you already know what a great weekend and kick-off to the holiday season it is. Each year, thousands of revelers line Galena’s historic Main Street on the Friday before Thanksgiving to welcome the latest annual release of Galena Cellars’ Nouveau. Celebrate the new vintage with wine-inspired lunches, dinners and tastings in Galena, Illinois November 21-22 and plan to spend the weekend with us at Farmers Guest House where you can also enjoy a very special WineTime™ each night at 5:30 pm.

do something nouveau this november do something nouveau this november

do something nouveau this novemberThe 30th Annual Galena Nouveau Weekend starts at noon on Friday with the official release of the wine. Many area restaurants offer traditional French peasant stew made with Nouveau wine. At 2:30 pm, Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery delivers their Nouveau wine via horse-drawn wagon delivery to downtown businesses and are joined by a parade of revelers. Galena comes alive with a multitude of offerings: vineyard tours, wine dinners, wine tasting, lodging, shopping and spa specials throughout the beautiful, relaxing corner of northwestern Illinois.

Nouveau Weekend happenings continually updated at:

To learn more about Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, visit:


October 15th, 2014

Everything is Better with Bacon

Below is an article from Global Writes on the recent Galena Food and Wine Festival. It just goes to show that everything is better with bacon…

Savoring the Flavors of Fall at Galena’s Food and Wine Festival

Near U.S. Grant’s house and down the street from the Piggly Wiggly, there was a distinct scent of bacon in the air. It was here on a recent Friday night in September that Galena, a historic river town in northwest Illinois, welcomed me to its second annual food and wine festival.

As I walked into the L-shaped exhibit hall at the Galena Convention Center, I couldn’t help overhearing two attendees discussing the intricacies of toasting wine barrels. Yes, foodies and oenophiles united to bring together more than 150 varieties of wine and a plethora of samples from a dozen culinary establishments, all to benefit the Galena Art and Recreation Center, a local YMCA-like nonprofit organization.

Ralph Kluseman, a guitarist and singer from nearby Dubuque, entertained the crowd with covers ranging from James Taylor to the Beatles, as two middle aged women pondered the merits of bidding on a “dammit doll” at the silent auction table.

French toast

The Caramel Apple Bacon French Toast was awarded first runner-up in the Best Breakfast in North America competition.

As I strolled to the right, I discovered the source of the pervasive pork smell: caramel apple bacon French toast from the Farmers Guest House, a nearly 150-year-old bed and breakfast in Galena. I almost choked while scarfing down the sweet and salty mixture because I saw a young woman wrinkling her nose and heard her say, “Oh, I don’t really like bacon.” Doesn’t she know everything tastes better with bacon?

Wines from near and far were represented, including a New Zealand Pinot Grigio and a Blackhawk Red by Massbach Ridge Winery, located approximately 20 miles away in Elizabeth. I decided to pass up shots of gin, vodka and “lead mine moonshine” (a tribute to Galena’s history as a mining town) as I set my plate and wine glass next to one of the silver candelabras on an oak wine barrel doubling as a table.

Spinach salad

A spinach salad! Yes, it is possible to eat something healthy at a food and wine expo!

The space lends itself well to an event like this; with a healthy crowd of approximately 200 attendees, there was a festive air without feeling overcrowded or straining to hear others. Toward the end of the evening, I spied a woman standing behind one of the tables popping a hummus-topped corn chip into her mouth – always a good sign when vendors are eating their own food.

To begin the evening, I had stopped by “Cheers! The Art of the Drink”, a new exhibit at the Galena Center for the Arts, highlighting the work of regional artists. Housed in an old medical clinic, the space is being reborn by using physician’s offices as private studio spaces and renovated to include a performance facility. Named by Fodor’s as one of the ten best small towns in the United States, Galena provided a charming slice of Americana on a rainy fall evening.

© 2014,  – Posted October 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

October 6th, 2014

Caramel Apple Bacon French Toast Recipe

Farmers Guest House Caramel Apple Bacon French Toast

Voted 1st runner-up 2014 Best Breakfast in North America by

caramel apple bacon french toast recipe


Serves 4, easily doubled


½ loaf French bread sliced into 12 1” slices

6 eggs

1 ¼ c whole milk

2 tsp vanilla

¾ c maple syrup, divided

1c  + 1 tsp butter, divided

4 slices thick cut, lean bacon, cut in ½ inch pieces

2 c brown sugar lightly packed, divided

2 gala apples cored and sliced thin

  1. Slice French Bread into 12 1” slices.  Place French bread slices in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl whisk eggs.  Add milk, vanilla and ¼ c maple syrup and whisk until well blended.  Pour over French bread slices and let set for 10 minutes, then turn the slices over and let set for an additional 10 minutes or until egg mixture is absorbed into the bread.
  2. While the bread is setting, make the Caramel Apple Sauce.  In a medium saucepan add the remaining butter and maple syrup, and all but 1 T of the brown sugar.  Over medium heat stir until the butter and sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Steam the apples in the microwave until tender, drain and then add apple slices to the sauce.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and remove from heat. ( If you cook the apples in the sauce it gets watered down.)
  3. Melt 1 tsp butter on a griddle set to 350˚, spreading the butter with the back of a spatula.  Brown the bread slices on the griddle for just a few minutes on each side.  Transfer to a jelly roll pan.  Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 350˚ to cook the eggs in the center of the bread.  The bread will puff up when done.
  4. While the French toast is baking, cook the bacon on the griddle.  When the bacon is cooked about halfway, sprinkle with the reserved brown sugar and continue cooking, being careful not to burn the sugar.  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain the bacon of excess grease.

When French toast is done, plate three pieces per person, add the bacon to the sauce, stir and, using a slotted spoon so as not to “drown” the plate, layer over the French toast.

September 30th, 2014

Apple Pot Pie


Apple Pot Pie

Fall is in the air and it’s time for some new fall recipes!

Apple Pot Pie was inspired by a Facebook post my sister sent me.  This is a simple but lovely dish.  Use your favorite apple pie recipe.  Divide the filling among the ramekins.  Use a biscuit cutter and a small cookie cutter to cut the top crusts which can be made from your own pie crust recipe. I use a leaf cutter from a pie crust decorator set I purchased at The Grateful Gourmet, one of the many specialty stores a short walk from the inn on Main Street.

Apple Pot Pie Tools

Brush the crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with decorators sugar.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the filling is bubbling. Serve warm.  This is a great starter for a savory fall breakfast or can be served as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

September 26th, 2014

Welcome Back Project Linus!

Project Linus Retreat

welcome back project linus welcome back project linus welcome back project linus

For the third year in a row, Farmers Guest House welcomed the Project Linus executive staff from their national headquarters, located in Bloomington, IL for their annual executive retreat to Galena, IL.  Pictured are Vice President, Mary Balagna, and President Carol Babbitt.

“We are humbled and just love saying ‘Welcome back Project Linus’,” says Farmers Guest House innkeeper Susan Steffan.

The group meets over 3-days to process the results of their yearly conference and plan future events.  The group of engaged executives also lives their mission of providing each child in need a handmade blanket when they need it most. The group brings their sewing equipment to Farmers Guest House and creates new template projects and amazing artwork that will be shared with children  who are confined to hospitals or experiencing a crisis in their lives.

welcome back project linusFarmers Guest House is the perfect location to plan your corporate or executive retreat. Scenic downtown Galena makes the perfect backdrop for your executive planning sessions at Farmers Guest House; the only boutique inn in downtown Galena. The Farmers Guest House community room, living room, cottage and unique collection of private rooms and suites are beyond compare for hosting executive and corporate retreats.

With chapters in all 50 states, Project Linus provides thousands of blankets each year to children in crisis.  On Christmas Eve, 1995, an article titled “Joy to the World” appeared in Parade Magazine. It was written by Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams. Part of the article featured a petite, downy haired child named Laura:

““Laura has unusual compassion for others,” Charlotte Barry-Williams of Oceanside, California, says of her daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1993. “I guess part of the reason is that she has experienced so much pain herself.”

A special “blankie” has helped Laura, 3, get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fevers and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs.

“She doesn’t understand what cancer means,” her mother says. “She’s a very joyous and happy person, very curious.” Her mother hopes Laura can start preschool next spring.”


After reading the article, Karen Loucks, the original founder of Project Linus, decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born. Learn more and get engaged with Project Linus at 

September 24th, 2014

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

On Sweet Tooth Wednesday, we want to help you satisfy your sweet tooth with these images from Susan’s collection of irresistible sweets.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, just click an image, choose your room and make your reservation. Yup, it’s just as simple as that:

satisfy your sweet tooth satisfy your sweet tooth satisfy your sweet tooth

September 23rd, 2014

Fall in Love with Cycling: Visit Galena

fall in love with cycling visit galenaWith it’s dramatic scenic vistas and tens-of-thousands of trees, Galena Illinois is naturally a draw for leaf-peepers from around the region. Visitors to Galena typically walk our historic streets, or drive through our scenic roadways to marvel at the changing colors, but touring Galena on a bicycle and having the opportunity to get some exercise at the same time is becoming more irresistable to many of our guests at Farmers Guest House.

We recommend, and many of our guests have experienced, riding a bicycle along the 4 mile Galena River Trail.

Visitors to Farmers Guest House can bring their own bikes, or rent a bike from Fever River Outfitters – right around the corner on Main Street.

On a bicycle, you can experience more of Galena in a smaller amount of time while having the advantage of being out in the open air.

It’s hard to tell how the 2014 fall color show will turn out, or when Galena will be at its peak. Certain vines are starting to change now and we expect the dogwoods to turn a dark purple soon. They will be followed by every other imaginable variety. We love when the sugar maples staret to change color. They will usually display a vibrant red, but may be orange or even yellow in some years. One thing we can be sure of is that you won’t be disappointed when you choose to spend your fall getaway with us at Farmers Guest House.

We look forward to seeing you this fall.

September 20th, 2014

LGBT Travel to Galena

Enjoy Gay Friendly Galena

Places to Stay Galena

LGBT travel to galenaWhen you are looking to book your stay in a gay friendly bed and breakfast or hotel in Galena, look no further than Farmers Guest House.

Sit back and relax. Book your overnight stay in Galena, the Midwest’s bed and breakfast capitol, at Farmers Guest House and wake up to the sights and sounds of our best small town in America. Our country elegant bed and breakfast is the perfect alternative to an upscale boutique hotel. You’ll find that we are the perfect, welcoming option for your next getaway. Our one-of-a-kind LGBT friendly bed and breakfast offers private accommodations, all with private bathrooms.

You’re invited to enjoy delicious dining, exciting nightlife, beautiful views and fun adventures in Galena, one of the top gay friendly destinations in the Midwest. Plan an exciting weekend with your friends and family, discover romance or just spend some time rejuvenating the soul at a world-class spa.

Gay friendly getaway from Chicago

LGBT travel to galenaStay at our country inn bed and breakfast in downtown Galena, soak in the sun on our private yards, enjoy our historic homes or go shopping on Galena’s historic Main Street when you plan your stay in Galena. Within a quick drive from Chicago, the Quad Cities and Madison, Galena is the perfect gay friendly spot for a weekend getaway.

Stroll down Main Street and you’ll find the famous Fried Green Tomatoes restaurant (with Tipsy Tuesday $2 wine night), modern American local cuisine in a relaxing setting at 111 Main and charming boutique shopping destinations. Make sure to stop by Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape, a lively late night spot with live music every weekend.

Head over to Gobbie’s for karaoke night on Saturday, fine dining at Fritz & Frites, or a theatrical show at a small town theatre. Then, take in the gorgeous view of the Mississippi River from the Mississippi Palisades State Park. Travelers can also visit neighboring Potosi, Wisconsin and the Potosi Brewery and National Beer Museum, or Dubuque, Iowa with historic charm, beautiful views, hiking trails, more shopping and even big-name concerts.

From year-round festivals to outdoor adventures, you’ll soon find out why Galena, Illinois, has become a top LGBT travel spot in the Midwest. So, pack your bags, appetites and golf clubs for the best getaway ever!

September 14th, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

I tried this one out on my guests this morning and they all loved it!

Makes 24

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c powdered sugar
For the Muffins:
4 large eggs
2 c sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
For the Topping:
1/2 c sugar 
5 T flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 T cold butter, cut into pieces
1. Make the filling by combining the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl.  Mix well.  Place bowl in the freezer while preparing muffins and topping.
2. spray 24 muffin cups.  Make the muffin batter.   In a medium bowl combine the first four ingredients whisking to blend.  Add the dry ingredients on top; do not stir until all ingredients are in the bowl.  Then stir just to combine.
3. Make the topping by conbining all the topping ingredients by pressing with a fork until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
4. Assemble the muffins. Preheat oven to 350.  Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter.  Take a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture and place it in the muffin pan on top of the dollop of batter.  Then add another dollop of batter to cover the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle some of the topping on each of the muffins. 
5. Bake for 22 – 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.
September 13th, 2014

Breakfast with General Grant & Julia Grant

General Grant and Julia Grant were sure to have graced the floors of the Farmers Home Hotel in 1867 since the first floor was, at the time, a General Store and Dry Goods Shop for the bustling town of Galena.  General Grant and Julia paid a visit this morning once again to Farmers Guest House, this time as breakfast guests.  The General visited with guests sharing wonderful anecdotes and historical tales while they enjoyed their breakfast and visit with the General.