Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall comfort food

Fall is our favorite time of year. Lafayette Park is full of beautiful trees changing color, the air is brisk, and we can cozy up by the fireplace with a good book.

Fall also means it's time for comfort food. One of Stacy's time-honored breakfasts is making banana bread French toast. It's an unexpected way to prepare a traditional recipe, and our returning guests frequently request it!

Here's the recipe:

Banana Bread

1 ¼ cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ½ cup mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1. Move oven rack to low position so that the tops of the pan(s) will be in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 350°. Grease the bottoms only of 2 loaf pans 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ or one loaf pan 9 x 5 x 3 inches with shortening. (I only use one pan.)
2. Mix sugar & butter in a large bowl. Add eggs & blend. Add bananas, buttermilk, & vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened.  Pour into pans. (I combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then slowly add them to the wet ingredients.)
3. Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 ¼ hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then run a butter knife around the edges and place onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

For French toast, just whisk a couple of eggs in milk or half and half, then batter thick slices of the banana bread. Cook on a lightly buttered griddle heated at 350 degrees. If you'd like to serve the French toast with caramelized bananas, just set a few slices of banana on the griddle and heat until golden (about 2 minutes on each side). Serve with warm maple syrup.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Notes about Napoleon

It seems fitting that the very first blog post from us at Napoleon's Retreat should focus on our namesake, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Why is our bed and breakfast named Napoleon's Retreat? Great question... and one that I didn't know the answer to until after we purchased Napoleon's Retreat! Shortly after we moved to Lafayette Square, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Bennett, one of our new neighbors. Larry and his husband Garth first opened the doors of 1815 Lafayette Avenue to B&B guests over 25 years ago. One night over dinner, Larry asked Garth what they should name their new bed and breakfast. Without missing a beat, Garth (a history buff), said, "Well, Napoleon retreated from Waterloo in 1815. It should be Napoleon's Retreat."

Thus, 1815 Lafayette Avenue became known as Napoleon's Retreat. When Brian and I bought the bed and breakfast in 2011, we had no desire to change the name. It fits with the French history of Lafayette Square, and provides the inn with a "mascot" of sorts. Napoleonic items are scattered throughout our bed and breakfast. There are numerous busts, prints, and paintings of Napoleon. Many of the items are gifts from Larry. We've added our own touches to the inn, too. A portrait of Josephine's now hangs beside the majestic painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps, and Josephine serenely smiles at guests from the top of the staircase.

Our guests often ask why we have bees on our coffee mugs, water glasses, and plates. Napoleon's personal symbol was the bee. It was part of his coat of arms. The cloak Napoleon wore when he was crowned emperor was embroidered with bees, as was the gown Josephine wore to the coronation. Only favored members of Napoleon's court were permitted to wear his bee symbol on their person. Bees were all the rage during Napoleon's reign. I've never really collected anything before, but I now find myself looking for unique items embellished with Napoleon's bee.

Our future blog posts will be used to notify guests of happenings in St. Louis, share recipes, and provide updates about our inn. We'll post again soon!