In our kitchen we have a shelf we call the “Granary”. It is mostly dried beans, and whole grains. After years of these things being tucked away in a cabinet and never used, I one day decided they belong out in the open.
Consequently, I use them more. Still, I wanted to find a better way to use the grains than just as a side dish or traditional soups, etc. I thought about where in our normal diets we eat the most grain and of course breakfast was the obvious answer! I would make my own whole grain cereal.
I like oatmeal, but I get sick of it. Why must oats be the only grain we eat at breakfast? So I took a look at the granary and decided I would make my own whole and multi grain cereal.
I began with the grains I find most difficult to work into a meal, barley, millet, and steel cut oats. These were also the grains which would cook the longest.
I then gathered the ingredients which would make it taste good, beyond the flavor of the grains. I had dried dates, raisins, almonds, honey, and some seasoning.
It helps here to have a basic chart of how long and in how much liquid each grain needs to cook. You can’t, for instance, throw rolled oats in with barley and cook them for the same time. The result would be useful for, perhaps, some sort of mortar on an exterior wall.
So here is a basic chart. If the grains you use are not on this chart it is simple enough to find the information.
Grain Liquid to Grain Cook Time
Barley 3:1 45 min
Millet 3:1 25 min
Steel Cut Oats 4:1 20 min
Wheat Berries 3:1 70 min
Brown Rice 2 1/4:1 35 min
Farro 2:1 25 min
Quinoa 2:1 15 min
Buckwheat 2:1 15 min
What this means is that you have to start with the sum of all the liquid you will need, and add the longest cooking grains first so that they all finish at the same time. For example, if you made barley and quinoa together, and used a cup of each grain, you would need a total of 5 cups of liquid (3:1 and 2:1). You would start the barley, cook for 30 minutes, and then add the quinoa, and cook for another 15 min.
I decided this day that I would use barley, steel cut oats, and brown rice. I have since recreated this and highly recommend millet for its visual appeal, and quinoa for its texture.
I put the liquid in the pot. If it were dinner I might use chicken stock or vegetable broth, but today it was straight tap water. I added the grains and brought it to a boil. Once boiling, I brought it down to a simmer.
While this was all happening, I was preparing and adding the flavor ingredients. I added a handful of raisins, and also had golden raisins, so I added those for color. I then chopped a handful of almonds. You could use almost any nut but these seemed to really add a great flavor.
I also had dried peach slices and dried dates so I chopped these and added them. Dried fruit has really concentrated flavor so it stands up to the long cook time. I also made sure to cut everything small so that a giant hunk of fruit would not dominate the small grains. the largest item in the pot was the raisins.
I seasoned it with cinnamon, vanilla, and honey. Also important is a couple good shakes of salt for each cup of grain in the pot.
Once it was all in the pot I covered it and let it simmer, adding grains at their appropriate time and giving it a stir every now and then.
This was a Saturday morning and as my family woke up, everyone thought I was cooking something different. “Are you making a pie?” Do I smell pancakes?” “Cookies!”
The cereal I made was great! It had a warm homemade flavor and there was a lot of it, so I was able to microwave a bowl of it all week on work days.
I served it with a dollop of yogurt, and as is often the litmus test in my household, everyone enjoyed it, teenagers included!
It has real staying power too! You will not be hungry for several hours after this breakfast!