Before you hit the stove running, sit down for a minute and check the owner's manual that comes with your cooker. It's very important to learn how to lock and unlock the lid, to recognize when high pressure is reached, and to tell the difference between the natural release and quick release of pressure.
Don't be tempted to stint on the initial 2 tablespoons of oil; it controls the foaming of the beans and barley as they cook under pressure.
Looking for a Cooker?
We tested various cookers in the Rodale kitchens and found that the Swiss-made, stovetop Kuhn Rikon Ecomatic offered the best quality-to-price ratio. It retails for about $100 and is available in some cookware shops and from various online sources (see kuhnrikon.com for more information). Although many people are drawn to electric cookers because they're programmable, be aware that they cook more slowly and they're more difficult to clean. And they are not as long-lasting as stovetop models, since eventually their motors burn out.