10 Must-Grill Foods You’ve Never Thought Of

By Jenn Schleich / Published at

So it’s snowing right now; I’m calling it Snowmageddon Spring 2015. If you missed it don’t worry, spring snow isn’t anything to write home about. In fact let’s all wipe it from our memories. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen and instead focus on the thing we should all be doing right about now: barbecuing. We have four solid months, maybe five if we’re lucky, of BBQ season ahead of us and I personally try to make the most of it.

There’s nothing that says summer more than the smell of someone barbecuing in their backyard. I’m not sure if it’s the caramelizing sugars in BBQ sauces, the aromatic flavour combinations of steak and fresh garden veggies wafting through the air or simply a sense of remembered nostalgia for all the wonderful summers of the past.

One of my all-time favourite things to grill up on the BBQ is chicken. That’s right, just plain old boring chicken. There’s something about grilling chicken that just completely changes the flavour dynamic. Of course chicken is pricey these days and it’s by no means very interesting. There’s a whole world of food out there you probably never considered grilling.

Here’s my list of must-grill foods:

1.  Corn On The Cob

Grill with the husks on for flavourful, sweet and perfect corn on the cob every time. This method takes a little longer than boiling but is worth the extra minutes.

2.  Pineapple

Grilled pineapple is a whole other level of sweet and juicy; it’s like eating sunshine.

3.  Pizza

Toss a frozen or fresh pizza straight on the grill or use a pizza stone if you own one for a more evenly cooked finished product. Remember to place your cold stone on the cold grill and heat it simultaneously with the BBQ to protect its structural integrity.

4.  Eggs

Pop them in a cast iron skillet and sizzle up your breakfast out on the patio campfire style.

5.  Pound Cake

While I don’t recommend cooking a pound cake on the BBQ, grilling sliced pound cake to warm it before serving with ice cream is a fun way to do dessert.

6.  Peaches

Like pineapple, the sweetness and flavour of peaches are multiplied by grilling.

7.  Lobster

Why heat your house with steaming pots when you can grill your fresh caught (if you’re lucky) lobster instead.

8.  Avocado

If you are in a guacamole funk, grilling avocado is an interesting way to switch things up.

9.  Banana Splits

Will the wonders of the modern world never cease? Grill your bananas with skin sliced open, or chop up and skewer with cake bites to serve over ice cream shish kabob style.

10.  Quesadilla

Get your Mexican on and make your Quesadillas like the restaurants do, over the open flame.

Image: Firepile/Flickr


Six Novels All Book Lovers Should Read

By Jennifer Schleich / Originally published in The Cliffhanger, April 2015

Spring is an excellent time to start cleaning, or so they say. On the other hand, cleaning is one of those chores that’s never finished, so why bother. I recommend dusting off your bookshelf instead.

You cannot write if you have not read, or something along those lines, so here is some knowledge gleaned from my very expensive English degree — it’s good for something, right? Get ready to bust out your library card and give these six books a chance; I promise you they are worth the read and many literary scholars, more studious and astute than I, agree.

  1. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King

Written by Canadian-American Cherokee author Thomas King, this is a wonderfully humorous book rife with comedy. It’s written in the winding and flexible style of oral storytelling innate to First Nations cultures. It’s a rich and vivid satirical look at life on the Canadian prairies.

  1. Complicity by Iain Banks

For the mystery lover among us, Complicity is a must-read story about a Scottish journalist who becomes intertwined within the crime he is reporting. The thrilling novel is muddled with confusion and plot twists and by the time you get to the end you still won’t quite know what you believe. Literary intrigue at its finest.

  1. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Katherine Dunn dives deep into the world of American carnival culture with her story about the Binewski family. It is funny, familiar, sad, heartbreaking, disturbing and subversive. Be prepared for this novel to make you feel uncomfortable, but you can take solace in the fact it is a favourite of Tim Burton’s.

  1. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Let us travel back in time to 1941 and the emergence of hard-boiled detective dramas. This is a classic 20th century novel that captures the entire cultural feeling of an era, and it’s a good old fashioned mystery too.

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

With pure science fiction and gravity-defying language, Pierce Brown will literally transport you through time and space to a world unlike our own. It’s a story of political and ideological subversion on the planet Mars in a high-tech space faring future.

  1. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates

You may or may not have heard of this book in movie form, starring Angelina Jolie. You will hear quite frequently that the book is never as good as the movie, but having not seen the movie I will decline to comment. Here’s the premise: high school girls in 1950s America form a girl power pact ahead of their time, and subsequently falter through adolescence as they struggle to exist in a society to which they don’t conform.

…

10 Reasons I Love My Small Boobs Even More As I Get Older

 By Jenn Schleich / Published by

Growing older has been the best thing that could ever happen to my boobs. They’re finally getting the accolades they’ve long deserved. If I had a dollar for every time I experienced a negative emotion about my small chest during my teenage years, I’d be dancing to the Greenback Boogie while dolla dolla bills fluttered around my head. Youth is a turbulent time and a set of small breasts are a highly visible indicator that you are (or at least you will definitely feel that you are) in the minority — it’s not a winning combination to inspire self-confidence.

Teenagers are notoriously self-conscious, self-deprecating and self-obsessed. I mean, let’s not try to deny it—we all were. It’s a generalization to say so, but I was a teenager not so very long ago that I can’t speak fairly authoritatively on the subject. When we’re young, we’re all about ourselves, and are notoriously hard on ourselves while we’re at it. Having small breasts in high school was, in my mind at least, a disaster of epic proportions. “When will they grow?” I silently queried daily, while wondering why this travesty had befallen me. ”I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” That mantra has been a staple of meagre-breasted adolescence for so many decades because the universal fact remains: when you’re young, having big boobs is one of the only quantifiable, visible markers of becoming a grown woman. And there’s nothing we want more when we’re young than to be a grown woman, and all that comes with it. So when the boobies don’t come, we’re left wanting desperately for them.

The best part about reaching my mid-twenties? I’m rolling in self-confidence at this point. I don’t care about my breast size any more, or pretty much any other specific physical attribute for that matter. The most wonderful realization of all is this: Other people don’t care that much about my boobs either. In fact, most people probably aren’t thinking or saying anything about me at all. I’ve found self-consciousness dissolves bit by bit as you age. You come to see brand new depth and nuance to your identity, and even your physical beauty, which liberates you from being chained to a tragically small list of “good” qualities. As you get older, you learn there’s a lot more to being a grown woman than filling out a c-cup….


Image: prudencemapstone.

Coffee Lovers Rejoice: 16 Ways to Transform Mugs into Décor

As published in Create & Bake (Feb. 26, 2015).
16 Ways to Upcycle Mugs

Most of us own an over abundance of mugs. Where they all come from, I don’t think we really know. They are part of the kitchenware detritus that seems to accumulate over the years, overcrowding already overcrowded cupboards and taking up valuable storage space. I swear there are mugs in my kitchen cabinets that manifested out of thin air. Even for the avid coffee drinking and tea aficionados, a plethora of mugs is still useless clutter. People seem to gravitate towards their favourite cup, ignoring all others to gather dust.

But if you just use your imagination you’ll find these mugs can be transformed into creative displays and decorative features in your home. Check out these amazing ideas for re-purposing and displaying your coffee mugs.

Click on the images to go back to the original source. If they have tutorials its noted above the photo.

1. Palette Mug Rack (Tutorial)

2. Coffee Mug Wall Art

3. Picture Framed Mugs (Tutorial)





It’s Not Like Riding A Bike

Originally published in The Cliffhanger.
Photo Credit: Yoco Nagamiya
Illustration Credit: Yoco Nagamiy
By Jenn Schleich

The expression “It’s just like riding a bicycle,” has never bothered me before, but today something crossed my desk that made me loathe it.

There is a general misconception about the meaning of the phrase, which is supposed to indicate that some things, once learned, aren’t forgotten. Instead, it’s often accompanied by the implication that you’ll always be able to do it well, which is certainly not true.

Once you’ve learned to ride a bicycle, you aren’t likely to forget. You could go two months, two years or twenty and still be able to climb up on that seat and peddle away; but how well? You certainly won’t be winning a gold medal. Even if you were once a practiced and seasoned rider you simply won’t pick up right where you left off.

Being out of shape is a term that applies to all manner of skills and hobbies. It applies to writing and art, it applies to math and science. Natural talent can only take a person so far, practice is the difference between making it to the finish line and making it to the finish line first. If you are going to shelve your trade or talent and fail it to give it the practice it requires, then don’t think of it in this regard, don’t expect to hop on and peddle to a first place finish…



Wiarton Willie, CBC Photo - Nathan Denette/CP

Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag

As published in The Cliffhanger (Jan. 22 – Feb 5)

Photo Credit:

By Jennifer Schleich

As I stare out the window into an abyss of white I can’t believe just a couple weeks ago we had beautiful green grass and bare roads. Our mild, easy going winter has morphed into a vicious, sharp-toothed beast. Do you believe in superstition? For example: we jinxed ourselves by commenting on how lovely the weather had been, or, somehow a small furry rodent really can predict the future (example: Groundhog Day).

Superstition is the belief in something called supernatural causality, which is essentially this:

The relationship between one event and another event, where the second event is understood to be a consequence of the first event, but which would not be possible so long as the laws of physics apply.

Are you following me? I wrote that sentence myself so probably not.

The English word superstition was coined sometime in the 15th century during the height of superstitious belief, but the meaning far predates it. Way back in the day, the classical Greeks were writing about superstition in Latin (superstitio) at least as long ago as 100 BC.

How all this deep rooted history and god fearing led to the celebration of the fortune telling powers of groundhogs is a bit of mystery, yet here we are. Shortly we will join the Western world in the observance of Groundhog Day, or as it is known elsewhere, Jour de la Marmotte (Quebec) and Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag (Pennsylvania German).

Honoured in pop culture and dominating early morning radio talk shows, groundhogs have reached a level of fame few could have predicted just a couple centuries ago. Though first documented in America in 1841, it may surprise you to learn that ancient Europeans celebrated a similar custom with a badger…



Photo Credit: CBC News – Nathan Denette/Canadian Press


Keep Your Pup Safe in Cold Weather

By Jenn Schleich

Winston1   Winston2

We have a sad St. Bernard in our house.

We had mishap on Monday night, sometime around midnight Winston got left outside, by accident, and was discovered around 4:30 a.m. when the baby woke up. It was chilly out there, about -15 °C (that’s 5 °F if you’re American). I feel terrible just remembering it as I write this down. I have never seen him more happy to see me, ever. Nor have I ever seen him so mopey.

St. Bernard’s are not known for their aversion to the cold; they are mountain dogs after all. Some of his favourite pastimes include making snow angels and barking at snowmen. But he’s a short hair, and minus 15 is minus 15. He spent the next hour shivering under the covers with me. I’m not sure if he was more upset over the cold or being left alone outside in the dark for hours. Either way, he’s still mopey.

According to our vet pets are sensitive to severe cold. Just like people, frostbite and hypothermia are concerns and the skin of their paw pads, ears and noses is easily susceptible to damage. Our vet said to keep an eye on his paws and ears for discolouration or flaking/sloughing of the skin which would indicate frostbite.PetTips

The snow is thick and the weather is bitter. Here are 10 simple dos and don’ts:

  1. Know your pet. All pets have different tolerance for cold weather. Dogs with arthritis or diabetes may be more susceptible to the cold, know your pet and have a safe winter…




(Original image: Voices From Russia)

New Years Hype + 10 Tips to Make It Stick

By Jenn Schleich
Photo Credit: Sara S. Munilla
Photo Credit: Sara S. Munilla / /

The New Years hype and high is starting to wear off. Those post-holiday blues are starting to set in. January is nearly half over; this is the point when people start losing momentum with their resolutions. No one likes to lose momentum. There’s little that’s more humbling, or humiliating I suppose, then screeching to an earth shattering halt on your way to self-improvement. Especially in our era of social media. Sharing your bold and ambitious New Years goals with the world makes it so much more gratifying if you succeed, but you also take the risk of exposing your failure a hundred fold if you don’t.

My news feed was an avalanche of resolutions on January 1st. The first week of the month was rife with pictures and hash tags on my instagram feed of people hitting the gym, or whatever people do in the first week of January. I’ve already noticed a noticeable decrease in these types of posts. For everyone’s sake I hope people are simply becoming more lazy about over-sharing and haven’t actually given up quite yet.

Personally, I despise New Years resolutions. I think there is too much pressure. Personal growth should be part of our daily lives; we should always strive to learn and try new things, not give a half-assed attempt annually. What does the Earth making a full rotation around the sun really have to do with your life?

However, if you are a true believer then there is advice floating around out there about how to make a lasting resolution:

(Original image: Voices From Russia)

10 Tips to Make it Stick:

  1.  Keep it specific. I’m going to lose weight is so lofty and broad that it’s bound to fail. Instead try something like I’m going to lose 20 lbs by July.
  2. Clarify how you are going to succeedI’m going to broaden my cultural tastes by reading five books in five genres I’ve never tried.


If, like me, you aren’t a true believer, if you want to do something different this year then check out my latest column in The Cliffhanger: Dip Your Toes in the Water.
Photo Credit: Freaktography

Frozen In Time

As published in The Cliffhanger (Nov. 27).

by Jennifer Schleich

The urban environment is an amazing place; it’s a shining example of human technological accomplishment. Skyscrapers, rooftop gardens, concrete highways and soaring overpasses cover vast acres of land. Perfectly manicured lawns and gardens are interspersed with brand new parks and neighbourhoods. It’s an environment rife for exploration and a new species of adventurer, the urban explorer, is mapping it with photography.

Shiny though urbanism may be on the surface, the closer you look the more you see the cracks. There are always weeds creeping up through fissures in the well-worn sidewalks or vast expanses of climbing plants clinging to the sides of bridges and sound barrier walls. Human ingenuity may be great, but nature is endlessly perseverant.

Abandoned buildings are intriguing places. Found in both the urban and rural regions of Ontario, ruins that were once shiny and new now crumble under the slow growth of new life. Tiny vestiges of their former glory remain in the form of forgotten belongings, tarnished hardware and peeling wallpaper. Though eerie in one sense, setting my eyes upon a man-made structure that has been reclaimed by nature always gives me a feeling I can only describe as peaceful, like the world has come full circle. It sounds strange, and sure, it’s sad to see something deteriorate with age, but it’s also amazing to watch how life takes root in even the most inhospitable environments.

You know those scenes in post-apocalyptic movies where a ragtag group of survivors come to a pause in their journey when the road they are travelling upon drops away into an abyss? Suddenly the camera pans back to show half of a monstrous highway overpass hanging in the sky. For some reason I really like those scenes. Abandoned buildings make me feel the same way.

Theatres, gas stations, hospitals, homes, schools, hotels, the list is endless. If it’s been built somewhere, it’s decaying somewhere else

If you Google Urban Exploration Resource Ontario you will find a forum dedicated to urban ruins in the province. is a data bank of locations. These aren’t the only websites, but they are a good place to start. There’s a whole subculture out there, of people exploring abandoned places.

On Flickr there is a group called Ontario Rural Ruins and the photographers who post there have managed to capture a time gone by. Their photography conveys not only a sense of loss but also of beauty.

“Derelict, abandoned, ruined buildings, places or things in rural Ontario. Old farm houses, abandoned commercial buildings, rusted out vehicles/machinery, old barns, ghost signs, old signposts, whatever you stumble upon,” is their mantra. “Take only photos; leave only footprints.”

Go looking for abandoned places, be respectful when you find them, and experience part of the past preserved in the present. The world may have moved on, but when you step through the doorway the outside world fades away and you are transported.


– Story inspired in part by Freaktography – Urban Exploration & Photography * Featured image: Belongs to Freaktography

We Go Way Back, Snow and Me

As published in The Cliffhanger Nov. 2014
By Jennifer Schleich

I close my eyes and breathe deeply; I smell snow. That magical, wonderful, cold smell that means winter is coming.

There are two scents which I find extremely attractive: the smell of fresh cut grass and the smell of snow. Throw out your cologne – who needs it? I’m literally smiling just thinking about it. It’s already snowed twice. I even saw some sticking to the ground briefly one morning. It might be too early for a blanket of snow but it’s coming. I know it and I can smell it in the air.

I know that look I get sometimes. You know that look right? The leery sideways glance that says this girl is crazy. But I’ll tell you I’m never wrong (at least in this aspect of my life). It’s a strange thing, half scent and half feeling. The scent: cold, but humid, and clean and fresh. The feeling: a shiver. Maybe that part is a brisk north wind. To me the smell of imminent snowfall is completely natural. It’s mind boggling that some have never experienced it.

Johan Lundström is a smell and taste researcher in Philadelphia. He says you can’t smell snow. I say phooey to him. He argues the mucus layer in our smell receptors dries up during the winter, but loosens when humidity rises, such as right before a snow storm…




100 Years Gone By

As published in The Cliffhanger – Say What Column (Oct. 30)
By Jennifer Schleich

War: open armed conflict between two or more parties, nations, or states; by land, sea or air.

War time: first reference circa late 14th century. War crime: first reference 1906.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Remembrance Day, November 11, is a Tuesday this year. It is, according to Veterans Affairs Canada, a day for remembrance of the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict or peace. Specifically, the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which the Canadian Forces have participated…




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