DIET FOR APPENDIX V: BUCKWHEAT AND CHESTNUTS

Buckwheat, or kasha as it is known in Russia, can be bought in most healthfood shops. It consists of brown triangular grains, whose strong, earthy flavour is something of an acquired taste. Wash the grains thoroughly under the tap, then cook in twice the quantity of salted water. You can make the taste less powerful by pouring off the first lot of water, after it comes to the boil, and replacing it with the same amount of clean salted water. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the grains are soft. It needs to be served with a sauce or casserole that has an equally powerful taste — beef and tomatoes with plenty of herbs, for example. Buckwheat spaghetti is also available, but check that it does not contain any wheat. It is not advisable to eat too much buckwheat, as it is often implicated in sensitivity reactions.

Chestnuts are useful as a snack or a breakfast dish. They can also be used to stuff a chicken or turkey, in the traditional manner, and eaten with the poultry as a substitute for potato. Dried chestnuts are the cheapest — they can be found in some healthfood shops, and in Chinese groceries. Soak them overnight, throw away the water and wash them thoroughly. Cook in a pressure cooker, at 15 lbs pressure, for 15 minutes, or boil in the ordinary way for about an hour, until tender all the way through but not disintegrating. You can cook a large quantity and freeze them in individual portions. They can be fried gently in oil to make a light breakfast — serve with grated apple or a salad. Alternatively, you can make chestnuts into a soup, preferably with oranges or some other fruit.

Pumpkin is available from some greengrocers in the autumn. It is sweet and slightly sticky — not unlike sweet potato. Prepare and use it in the same way.

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