Did you know that wherever you are in Michigan, you are never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes? It’s the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes. Or that the Kellogg Brothers, who made Battle Creek Michigan the cereal capital of the world, accidentally discovered the process for making corn flake cereal?
Tim Allen, Lucille Ball and Madonna were all born in Michigan. Henry Ford grew up in Michigan. Michigan is the 10th most populous state. Perhaps that’s why so many recognized names have a connection to Michigan. It’s also the nations longest freshwater coastline, and the second-longest coastline of any kind in the US, just after Alaska. That also explains why Michigan has the highest number of lighthouses in the country.
Today is National Michigan Day. When searching for recipes that are unique to Michigan, I came across Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub in Marshall, Michigan. It’s considered a “destination” that has drawn people for over 100 years. First opened in 1909 by Albert Schuler, his son Win joined the family business in 1934. Like most sons, Win had a few ideas to improve the family business. One was to have waiters, college students, to wait on customers. Folks were accustom to women as the wait staff, with the boys clearing tables. This was new. Win also wanted diners to have something to nibble on while looking over the menu. That’s when he came up with a cheese spread unique to the pub. Schuler’s Bar-Scheeze was created in 1946 from a secret recipe. Win even built a plant to manufacture the snack. It expanded to be sold in supermarkets in 1968. Vlasic Foods bought the plant in the 1980s. So today you don’t have to head to Michigan to have this “secret” cheese spread. And as with anything famous, there are copy cat recipes for those wanting that “from scratch” experience. Enjoy!
Win Schuler’s Bar-Scheeze
1/2 cup Bacon Grease with bacon bits
16 oz Processed Cheese
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter
1 (8 oz) package Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz Prepared Horseradish (from Detroit if possible)
2 tablespoon Onion Juice
Dash Hot Red Pepper Sauce
Begin by rendering the bacon grease. Place 8 ounces of bacon in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Lay bacon out in a single layer, cook in batches if necessary. Let the bacon fry slowly, about 12 minutes, turning as needed to prevent burning. Remove bacon, drain grease into a heat-proof container, scraping up any browned bits. If desired, crumble a little more bacon into the grease. Reserve bacon for another use or crumble and top cheese with it.
Place bacon grease, cheese, butter, cream cheese, and horseradish in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until cheese begins to melt.
Add onion juice and hot pepper sauce. Continue to cook until everything comes together. It may look coarse, and that’s fine.
Pour into a blender, blend until smooth. Transfer spread to a crock. Serve with hearty crackers such as Triscuits and enjoy.