Hot Pearl Barley with Honeyed Nuts

Sweet or savory, pearl barley keeps its texture when serving a crowd or leftovers. Learn more at
I didn’t learn to enjoy hot cereals until I spent a winter in St. Petersburg, Russia, with weeks of subzero mornings. A kasha blend of mixed grains is now one of my go-to breakfasts for chilly Montana mornings. Although delicious, it doesn’t taste or look as good when it sits, so it’s best made and eaten immediately. That’s why when I want to make a large batch of hot cereal to serve to a group or keep on hand to quickly reheat and eat over a few days, I choose pearl barley.

As I explain in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, I recently started making pearl barley in the pressure cooker, a technique I hadn’t thought workable because I feared it would foam and stop up the pressure valve. By using a water bath, that fear has vanished. The reward: it takes less than half the time as cooking pearl barley on the stovetop. So you can prepare it on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker, depending on the tools you have at hand.
Learn to make Hot Pearl Barley with Honeyed Nuts


I’ve found many reasons to love buckwheat: it’s gluten free, packed with protein, and easy to prepare. Get buckwheat recipes at
My first memorable encounters with buckwheat grouts were in Russia. In the United States, roasted buckwheat grouts are typically sold as “kasha,” but in Russia, all the каша I ate as a hot breakfast cereal was a mix of grains. My Russian friends tended to cook buckwheat on its own—traditionally in an oven until it softened to a porridge—and serve it as a savory meal more than a sweet one.

I’ve since found many reasons to love buckwheat. Despite its name in English, it’s not a type of wheat: it’s actually a gluten-free seed in the same plant family as rhubarb. So if wheat isn’t on your diet, buckwheat is your friend. Unlike some gluten-free grains, it’s packed with protein and amino acids. Soaking it removes some of its phytic acid, which can make it easier to digest. A presoak also speeds up the cooking process—instead of a slow bake in a low-temp oven, you can have it ready from the stovetop in 5 minutes for a modern take on каша сименуха, a traditional Russian breakfast, or for an easy dinner with roasted vegetables.
Learn to make Buckwheat Porridge with Mushrooms and Eggs and Roasted Vegetables with Tofu and Buckwheat

Hot Cereals

I never was a cornflake girl, and as a kid I wasn’t a hot cereal girl. Then I went to Russia. Get hot cereal recipes at
I never was a cornflake girl, and as a kid I wasn’t a hot cereal girl. I blame my dad: To this day, he calls his porridge “mush.” (If you want to get little girls excited about eating hot breakfast cereal, I highly suggest a different name.) Beyond the name, I disliked the taste and texture—or rather, the lack of both. Dad’s porridge was always bland oats or wheat, ground finely enough or cooked long enough that “mush” was an appropriate title.

It wasn’t until I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, that hot breakfast cereals became comfort food. Part of it was stepping off the train in early January into –23°F—weather that will make anyone eat anything hot. But mostly it was because Russians know how to make simple porridge taste good. It starts with a mix of grains, improving both flavor and texture. Adding butter to the saucepan before the grains lets them toast slightly. I then take the un-Russian step of adding spices.
Learn to make Russian Kasha and Pearl Barley Cereal with Honeyed Nuts