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Breakfast Barley Cereal

A breakfast inspiration:  my father has noticed that his blood pressure seems to stay lower when he eats hot barley cereals in the morning.  This is strictly anecdotal; I have seen no scientific studies on the effect of barley on hypertension.  But barley is tasty, and it has been a good excuse to play with barley for breakfast. 

He likes rolled barley, but that's hard to come by, and I happened to have a large bin of hulled barley to use up.  And I love the smell and taste of toasted barley, a trick I learned from a recipe in Flatbreads and flavors.  So on a cold, quiet weekend morning I came up with this, and it seemed good enough to share

1/3 C hulled barley (I think pearl barley would also be fine)

1 C water
1 T date pieces or chopped dates, or honey to taste
1/2 tsp butter, optional

2 T toasted walnuts, or other nut of your choice, optional

milk, optional

Toast the barley lightly, until it just starts to smell nutty and nice.  You can do this by placing in a thin layer in the microwave (time and power depend on your particular microwave, but starting with 5 minutes and increasing a couple of minutes at a time will probably be fine); stirring in a heavy pan over medium heat; or baking a thin layer spread on in a baking pan in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  It's easier to do a larger batch in advance and refrigerate or freeze the toasted grain before use.

In a small metal bowl placed inside your pressure cooker, place the barley, water, dates and butter (if using honey, add it after the cooking).  Bring to 15# pressure over high heat, then reduce heat and cook 25 minutes.  (Be sure there is plenty of water in the bottom of the cooker--outside the bowl) to maintain steam and not dry out during the 25 minute cooking time.

Remove from heat, let come down from pressure, and eat the barley hot, topped with the walnuts and a bit of milk if you like.

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