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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/25/11

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MAPLE CHEESECAKE WITH MAPLE-CRANBERRY COMPOTE!

Maple Cheesecake with Maple-Cranberry Compote


The key to this deeply flavored cheesecake? Reduced maple syrup. The sweet-tart compote is a delicious—and pretty—accompaniment.
10 to 12 servings
Maple Cheesecake with Maple-Cranberry Compote

Ingredients

reduced maple syrup

  • 1 1/2cupspure maple syrup (preferably grade A dark amber)

crust

  • 2 cups ground graham crackers (about 17 whole crackers ground in processor)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon(scant) ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

filling

  • 38-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar or (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup reduced maple syrup (see above)
  • 2/3 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • Maple-Cranberry Compote (click for recipe)

Special Equipment

  • Heavy-duty stand mixer
  • 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides

Preparation

REDUCED MAPLE SYRUP

  • Boil maple syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 cup, stirring occasionally and watching closely to avoid boiling over (syrup will bubble up to top of pan), about 5 minutes. Remove reduced maple syrup from heat and let cool to slightly warm or room temperature.

CRUST

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake crust until set and top edge of crust darkens slightly, about 10 minutes. Cool crust completely on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

FILLING

  • Beat cream cheese in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with paddle attachment until very smooth. Add maple sugar, flour, and salt; beat until well blended and smooth. Add 1 cup reduced maple syrup, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add eggs, 2 at a time, and beat just until blended after each addition. Tap bowl several times on counter to release any air bubbles. Pour filling into cooled crust. Using tip of small knife, pop any air bubbles on surface.
  • Bake cake until slightly puffed around edges (center will still look moist and will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  • Cut cheesecake into wedges. Divide among plates. Serve with warm Maple-Cranberry Compote alongside.

BOXING DAY!


   Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.
   In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland it is recognized as St. Stephen's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In the Netherlands, Lithuania, Austria, Germany, Scandinavia and Poland, December 26 is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.
   Although the same legislation – the Bank Holidays Act 1871 – originally established the bank holidays throughout the UK, the day after Christmas was defined as Boxing Day in England, Scotland and Wales, and the feast day of St. Stephen in Ireland.  A "substitute bank holiday in place of 26 December" is only possible in Northern Ireland, reflecting the legal difference in that St. Stephen's Day does not automatically shift to the Monday in the same way as Boxing Day.
   In Canada, Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is a federal statutory holiday where all workers receive time off with pay.




Etymology

   The exact etymology of the term "boxing" is unclear and there are several competing theories, none of which are definitive.  The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
In the UK, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.  This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663; This custom is linked to an older English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food).

About The Date

   Boxing Day is a secular holiday that is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day, which is also St. Stephen's Day, a religious holiday.  However, when 26 December falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day in many places is moved to 27 December. In the U.K., where Boxing Day is a bank holiday, if Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, a substitute bank holiday is given on the following Monday, but if Boxing Day falls on a Sunday – which means that Christmas Day, another bank holiday, fell on a Saturday – then the Statutory Holiday for Christmas is moved to Monday 27 December and the Statutory Holiday for Boxing Day is moved to Tuesday 28 December.




   In Scotland, Boxing Day has been specified as an additional bank holiday since 1974, by Royal Proclamation under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.
In Ireland – when it was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – the Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St. Stephen as a non-movable public holiday on 26 December. Since the Irish War of Independence, the name 'Boxing Day' is used only by the authorities in Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK. There, Boxing Day is a movable public holiday in line with the rest of the UK.
In the Australian state of South Australia, 26 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday.
   In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday  that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day is a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week.

Shopping

   In Britain,  Canada,  New Zealand and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue. In the UK in 2009 it was estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appeared at the sales (a rise of almost 20% compared to 2008, although this was also affected by the fact that the VAT would revert to 17.5% from 1 January).






   Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues to form early in the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers.  Many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items.  Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queueing up, providing video of shoppers queueing and later leaving with their purchased items.  The Boxing Day sales have the potential for customer stampedes, injuries and even fatalities.  As a result, many retailers have implemented practices aimed at managing large numbers of shoppers. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at a time, provide tickets to people at the head of the queue to guarantee them a hot ticket item or canvass queued-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.
   In recent years, retailers have expanded deals to "Boxing Week", and some stores even have "half way to boxing day sales" on June 26th While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers who hold Boxing Day Sales will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Year's Eve. Notably, in the recession of late 2008, a record number of retailers were holding early promotions due to a weak economy. Canada's Boxing Day has often been compared with the American Super Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas.




   In some areas of Canada, particularly in Atlantic Canada and parts of Northern Ontario (including Sault Ste. Marie), most retailers are prohibited from opening on Boxing Day, either by provincial law or municipal bylaw. In these areas, sales otherwise scheduled for 26 December are moved to the 27th.
   In Ireland, since 1902, most stores remain closed on St. Stephen's Day, as with Christmas Day. In 2009, some stores decided to open on this day, breaking a 107-year-old tradition. Some stores have also started their January sales on this day.

 Cyber Boxing Day

   The online version of Boxing Day has been referred to as "Cyber Boxing Day". In the UK in 2008, Boxing Day was the busiest online shopping day of the year.  In 2009, many retailers with both online and High Street stores launched their online sales on Christmas Eve and their High Street sales on Boxing Day.



File:Keswick Boxing Day hunt 1962.jpg


Sport

   In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland it is traditional for the Premier League, Scottish Premier League and Irish Premier League respectively, as well as the lower divisions and Rugby leagues, to hold a full programme of football and Rugby League matches on Boxing Day. Traditionally, matches on Boxing Day are played against local rivals. This was originally to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day. It also makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar. In Australia and South Africa, on the boxing day famous and awaited test matches are played. Especially in Australia nearly 100,000 people come every year to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness the Boxing Day test match.
   In horse racing, there is the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey. It is the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
   Boxing Day is a popular day in the U.K. and U.S. for mounted fox hunters. Despite fox hunting being banned by the Hunting Act in 2004, Boxing Day remains the biggest hunt of the year for most hunts in the UK by use of scent drag trails instead of live quarry.
Australia holds the first day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
   The IIHF World U20 Championship (ice hockey) typically begins on 26 December.
The NHL tends to have close to a full slate of games (11 were played in 2010), following the league-wide days off given for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
   The Spengler Cup (ice hockey) also begins on 26 December in Davos, Switzerland, and includes HC Davos, Team Canada, and other top European Hockey teams.
In some African Commonwealth nations, particularly Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania, prize fighting contests are held on Boxing Day. This practice has also been followed for decades in Guyana and Italy.

 


 

THE CHRISTMAS TREE SHIP

 


The Original Christmas Tree Ship

Captains Schuenemann


   The story of the beginning of the Christmas Tree Ship is the story of the Schuenemann family, and most particularly the story of Capt Herman Schuenemann and his last ship, the Rouse Simmons.
   In approximately 1885 August and his brother Herman Schuenemann moved to Chicago to seek out their fortune. Chicago’s Harbor was one of the busiest in the world at this time with over 20,000 vessels entering and leaving annually. As competition was fierce, the brothers became excellent businessmen as well as sailors. Although they made a relatively good living, two-thirds of their annual income was generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the sale of trees. August had become a truly competitive trader and by 1895 had a well-established reputation as a Christmas tree merchant. In early November of 1898, August was in Sturgeon Bay looking for trees that he would bring to Chicago on a ship named the S. Thal. He purchased 3,500 trees and on November 9th departed with 3 crewmembers for Chicago’s Harbor. A few days later the S. Thal was caught in a horrific storm off the coast of Glencoe, IL and perished. There were no survivors. Herman did not sail with his brother that year, probably due to the birth of his twin daughters in October.
   Continuing with the efforts of his and Augusts, Herman now had a business without a partner. Herman sailed further and further north with each passing year. This allowed him to purchase better quality trees at a lower cost but this also made Herman and his crew incur poor and unpredictable weather the further north they sailed. Over the next few years Herman had lost one ship and almost lost another. This triggered him to purchase larger ships (the largest measuring 130 feet long and 26 feet wide.) With the larger and more stable ships, Herman went as far north as the Soo Canal to purchase his trees from the Indians. Eventually, he would hire his own crew to cut and prepare the trees for the journey back to Chicago. In 1910 Schuenemann had established the ” Northern Michigan Evergreen Nursery” whose address was given as the “SW corner Clark Street Bridge.” This allowed him to lower his expenses by selling his cargo directly from the deck of his ship. No longer would Capt. Schuenemann pay laborers to carry trees to store owners and local grocers. He was trying to eliminate as much of the middleman as possible. While Herman sold trees and greens on deck, his daughters worked below by the warmth of the cabin stove making wreaths out of cut greens. In order to even further lower his expenses, sometime between 1910 and 1912 Herman purchased 240 acres in upper Michigan. In salaries for tree cutters, crew, provisions, towing fees and miscellaneous expenses, a single trip would have cost him approximately $3,000. Any failure to return with trees would leave Herman flat broke. In order for Herman to cover all of these expenses as well as make the bulk of his annual income, he now had to transport as many trees as possible with each journey.



Loaded with Trees

   By 1911, Schuenemann owned a large vessel named the Rouse Simmons. A ship of her magnitude could carry more than 5,000 trees that were lashed down tightly. The weight of these trees would not become a factor unless they became wet and froze. If this was to happen the weight could now become detrimental to the journey’s success. Schuenemann had the Rouse Simmons recaulked during his passage to Chicago in 1911, but failed to recaulk her prior to leaving Chicago for his 1912 adventure. The neglect to recaulk the Rouse Simmons in 1912 was probably due to financial strains caused by Schuenemann being sued for failure to repay an old debt. The decision not to recaulk the Rouse Simmons would be a fatal one. She was last seen on November 23, 1912, between Kewaunee and Two Rivers Wisconsin, with distress signals flying. Capt. Schuenemann and his crew of 16 went down just 30 miles south of his boyhood home of Ahnapee, Wisconsin. Throughout the years that the Schuenemann’s made their living from the Maritime Christmas Tree business, it rose, peaked and by 1912 was fading. What began as an informal barter system evolved into big business controlled by the high-volume wholesalers. As the railroads and improved highways were now the most efficient way of moving Christmas trees throughout the Midwest, old wooden bottomed vessels became obsolete.
   Chicagoans remembered ” Christmas Tree” Schuenemann for at least the next generation. In December of 1934, in the height of the depression, three middle-aged women opened a store on the Near North Side of Chicago. The sign, which brought back many good times and feelings, read CAPTAIN AND MRS. SCHUENEMANN’S DAUGHTERS. Passerby’s entered the store, shared stories of their childhood on the docks and bought the tree they were to display in their parlor. That was the only year that the daughters had a shop. That was probably due to the depression, but it was said that so few people had given so much joy to so many people, as did the Schuenemann family, just for doing their job.


Chicago Christmas Tree Ship Pictures



   With a Christmas tree hanging from its mast and a red-bowed wreath fastened beneath its bridge, the icebreaker Mackinaw powers through the frigid waters of Lake Michigan bound for Chicago's Navy Pier. Lashed to the decks of the U.S. Coast Guard ship are 1,500 Christmas trees that will be distributed to disadvantaged families in the Windy City.
   Each December, the 240-foot Mackinaw and its 60-person crew carries on the time-honored tradition that rouses holiday spirit and creates lasting memories for tree growers, volunteers and recipients.
   "This will be our first Christmas tree," says Nana Afari, 34, after receiving a free tree last year with her husband, Eric, 36, and their son, Kweku, 3. "We're very excited about it," adds Afari, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana eight years ago.
   "We're going to put a star on the tree," Kweku chimes in.
   The Christmas Tree Ship, as the evergreen-laden Mackinaw is dubbed, continues the legacy of the Rouse Simmons, a three-masted schooner that transported Christmas trees to Chicago a century ago from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The ship's captain, Herman Schuenemann, sold trees from his vessel and gave some to Chicagoans who couldn't afford their 50-cent price.



afari-family-christmas-tree-chicago Pics


   "The crew and I feel fortunate to share in such a wonderful endeavor," says Mackinaw Cmdr. Scott Smith, 42, standing aboard his ship. "We're proud to stand in for the Rouse Simmons."

Reclaiming a Tradition The legacy of the Rouse Simmons was resurrected a decade ago as Coast Guard administrators and members of Chicago's marine community were searching for ways to help Chicago's less fortunate during the Christmas season. They formed the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee and began raising money to purchase trees for families who couldn't afford them.
   "We knew a large number of kids couldn't afford Christmas trees; we didn't want that to happen in Chicago," says Truitt, the committee's program director.
   Since 2000, the all-volunteer organization has given away more than 10,500 trees to poor individuals and families. "It gives me great satisfaction to know these trees are going to families who wouldn't otherwise get one," says Lloyd Karzen, 71, a yachting enthusiast who has served on the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee since its inception.
   The committee organizes thousands of volunteers each year and raises thousands of dollars to purchase Christmas trees. Growers in Michigan and Wisconsin provide 6-foot fir trees at reduced prices and deliver them to Cheboygan, Mich. (pop. 5,295), where the Mackinaw is stationed.



unload-christmas-trees-needy-chicago Pics


   "Contributing to someone else's happiness is what the season's all about," says Chris Maciborski, 36, owner of Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich.

Voyage and volunteers
   Scouts, high school students and crew members load the Mackinaw prior to Thanksgiving before the Coast Guard cutter departs on its 600-mile seasonal journey to replace buoys on Lake Michigan with winter markers.
   After the Mackinaw docks in Chicago on the first Friday in December, yachting club volunteers string 8,000 lights on its railings, some years chipping off ice before they can decorate the ship. Hundreds of school children tour the ship, listen to ecology lessons from Coast Guard Auxiliary, and hear Ruth Gibson retell her mother's Christmastime story.
   The following day, the trees are unloaded. Laughing, joking and singing holiday songs, 250 Scouts from across the Midwest unload trees from the Mackinaw's deck. Trucks transport the evergreen cargo to 16 charities and churches throughout Chicago for distribution, and the Mackinaw departs to resume its winter mission.
   "This is a fantastic display of human togetherness," says Boy Scout Nick Bernstein, 17, a third-year volunteer. "It's truly heartwarming."