Winter-ready maintenance tips
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association that represents power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf cart and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI offers maintenance tips for preparing for upcoming seasonal changes.
“Doing good maintenance in the fall means that your lawn mower will be in ready when spring arrives and you are eager to tackle landscaping projects,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “As you get ready for winter, now is also the time to do snow thrower and generator maintenance. You should also review safe handling procedures, so you know how to use your equipment and are ready when snow falls.”
- Re-familiarize yourself with how to handle your equipment safely, along with any maintenance needs. If you lost your manual, you can usually find it online. Save a copy so that you can consult it when needed.
- Before storing equipment that you won’t need during the winter months, clean and service it yourself or take it to a small engine repair shop. Drain and change engine oil, then safely dispose of old oil. Service the air filter, and do other maintenance activities as directed by your service manual. Check all winter equipment to see what maintenance and repairs are required.
- Handle fuel properly. Unused gas that’s left in gas tanks over the winter can go stale. It can even damage your equipment. Before you store your equipment, add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, and then run the equipment to distribute it. Turn the engine off, allow the machine to cool, then restart and run until the gas tank is empty. For winter equipment, be sure that you use the fuel that your manufacturer recommends. Most outdoor power equipment is designed, built and warranted to run on 10 per cent, or less, ethanol fuel.
- If your equipment has a battery, remove and fully charge it before storing. It’s important that batteries are not stored on metal shelves or touching metal objects. Store the battery on a plastic, or wood, shelf in a climate-controlled structure.
- Store your spring and summer equipment in a clean and dry place, such as a garage, barn or shed. Winter equipment should be kept away from the elements, but be easily accessible for use when needed. Always keep your outdoor power equipment out of the reach of children and pets.
- Clear the paths the are regularly used in your yard, especially during the winter months, and put away warm weather items. Clear space in your garage and basement (before the weather changes), so that you have room to store larger yard items, like patio furniture, umbrellas and summer toys.
- Familiarize yourself with your winter equipment and make sure that you know how to turn the machine on and off the machine, along with safe handling procedures.
- Buy the type of fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer no more than 30 days before required. You should use fuel with no more than 10 per cent ethanol in outdoor power equipment. Also, fuel goes stale and will need to be replaced if you have not used it within a month. Use a fuel stabilizer, if recommended by your manufacturer.
- Keep heavy duty, weatherproof extension cords on hand for your generator.
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Just in time for the entertaining season, Canada's baking superstar Anna Olson shares two great appetizer recipes from her latest book Baking Day with Anna Olson, Recipes to Bake Together.
Roasted carrot dip
* Simple *
The natural sweetness of carrots really comes through in this dip, and while the chickpeas give this dip some structure (and protein), they don't overwhelm the carrot taste, so you won't mistake this dip as hummus. I love roasting parsnips and carrots together in the fall; why not try a variation of this dip made with half carrots and half parsnips?
• serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups/500 ml) • prep time: 15 minutes • cook time: 45 minutes
1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/750 ml)
3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme salt and ground black pepper
1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas (or tinned, well drained and rinsed)
¼ cup (64 g) tahini (sesame paste)
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
Dress up this colourful dip by adding a dollop or a swirl of plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds or pomegranate seeds – or all of these things!
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
- Toss the carrots with the olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Roast the carrots, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool before making the dip.
- Puree the carrots in a food processor along with the now-roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and coriander until smooth, adding a little water if needed (up to half-cup/125 mL) to make it smooth. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. The dip will keep for up to 4 days, refrigerated.
** More Involved **
I love crackers. A strange admission, yes, but I would choose crackers over potato chips in a heartbeat (but don't ask me to give up popcorn). These crispy crackers are a delicious savoury snack all on their own or as an addition to a cheese platter, and served with a roasted carrot dip (page 110) it's as if you've reversed the traditional carrot sticks and hummus.
• Makes about 5 dozen crackers • prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling • cook time: 8 minutes
¼ cup (60 ml) water
3 tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed
1.5 cups (180 g) chickpea flour
3 tbsp (27 g) sesame seeds
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fine salt
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried granulated garlic)
1 tbsp (30 ml) extravirgin olive oil
2 tbsp (32 g) tahini (sesame paste)
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Stir the water and ground flaxseed together and set aside. Place the chickpea flour, sesame seeds, lemon zest, cumin, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the flaxseed water, oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until the dough comes together. If the dough feels sticky, wrap and chill for 10 minutes (to let the chickpea flour absorb some of the liquid) otherwise turn the dough out onto a rolling surface.
- Roll out the cracker dough to under quarter in. (6 mm) thick, dusting it and the work surface with chickpea flour as needed to prevent sticking. Use a 2-in. (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Arrange them on the baking trays so they are close together but not touching. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all of the dough has been used. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cool the crackers on the trays on cooling racks. The crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
These crackers are a perfect balance: substantial enough to hold up under a good scoop of dip but also delicate enough note to be enjoyed on their own.
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