Grim's Grub: Recipes harken back to Spurrier Hotel opening


Pine River residents know that one of the cornerstones and most recognizable properties in the city was the Spurrier Hotel (later the Lakes Region Hotel) that was dedicated in 1918.

It was a rather large, beautiful brick building with three floors and apparently lots going on. I don't know that it necessarily would be in use as a hotel today if it were still around, but we will never know because in 1964 the building was demolished to make way for the imminent construction of the four-lane Highway 371.

Savvy folks know that the hotel was located where the Sweet Cars lot is today. Even savvier folks know that the Minnesota Department of Transportation now plans to expand the highway to four lanes on the west side of the road, making the destruction premature and unnecessary.

Joke's on us, right?

In spite of that unfortunate loss, Heritage Group North (the group that coincidentally saved the Pine River Depot from being demolished to make way for the Highway 371 expansion on the opposite side of the highway) decided to celebrate the Spurrier Hotel's centennial by hosting a dinner with entertainment at Bites Grill & Bar in Pine River on Thursday, July 26.

What does this have to do with my recipe column?

Heritage Group North was recently gifted a program from the Spurrier Hotel's grand opening, which included the list of speakers, entertainment and, yes, menu. In honor of that, this week's Grim's Grub features the items that were served 100 years ago for the hotel's grand opening, and which will be served at Bites on July 26.

The idea came to me when a Heritage Group North member asked me to help find a recipe for "Conservation Biscuits," a name I have heard but don't know where. I found something online that might be correct, but if you know better, please share.

As for the menu, everyone is familiar with roast turkey, salad, ice cream and angel food cake, so I will focus on conservation biscuits and consomme. Enjoy!

Consomme Clear

Recipe at

  • 1 cooked chicken carcass, skin and fat removed
  • 1 medium onion, skin on and halved
  • 1 large carrot, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, skin on
  • Handful of tarragon
  • Large handful whole flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Salt and pepper

In a large stock or saucepan, place the carcass, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, tarragon, parsley and bay leaf. Cover with cold water and bring to a gentle, rolling boil.

Simmer gently for 1 ½ to 2 hours, keeping the ingredients covered with water through the entire process. Taste the stock after time is up to determine if the flavors are strong enough.

If ready, strain the stock through a colander, discarding solids, and then return the liquid to the pan. Bring the liquid back to a boil to reduce the liquid by about ¼.

Allow the liquid to cool, then place in the refrigerator for 1 hour (still in cooking vessel). Skim any fat from the surface and then whisk egg whites into the stock thoroughly.

Bring the liquid back to a boil, whisking all the time, then reduce to a simmer and cease whisking. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, until the egg whites form a crust on the surface (called a raft). Filter this broth through cloth to remove all solids. Take your time. If you force the fluid through your cloth, it will be cloudy.

Heat this liquid again until hot, but not boiling. Serve with croutons. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Conservation Biscuits

Recipe at

  • 1000g (approximately 8 cups) flour
  • 300g (approximately 1.214 cups) whole milk
  • Fresh or dehydrated yeast (perhaps 1 packet)
  • 300g (approximately 1 1/3 cups) butter
  • 200g (approximately 1 cup) of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • Vanilla sugar (according to taste)
  • Pinch salt

Dissolve yeast in a little lukewarm milk. Add a little flour and let rise.

Work all the ingredients and add the butter last when the dough is flexible. Fold dough to obtain a homogeneous and very flexible dough.

Let the dough rise, punch it and then let it rest in the refrigerator (one hour). Then fold down the dough and use to form dunamers (apparently small dinner roll-like balls of dough). Let rise, brush with egg yolk and cook about 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit).