Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

Campfire or no, you too can make this scrumptious oatmeal that I took on last weekend’s camping trip right in your own kitchen. This recipe takes only a few more minutes than making one of those over-priced, over-processed instant package thingies and (shocker) this oatmeal will actually be hearty enough to keep you full all morning long.

I mean seriously, who are they trying to fool with those dehydrated apple slices? GIMME A BREAK WITH THAT NOISE. The first ingredient in the name of this recipe is APPLE and I promise you, the apples are the real star of the show here. We’re going to start off the process by doing something to the apples that we don’t usually do when making oatmeal… we’re gonna caramelize those sweet little autumnal joy bombs.

Caramelizing apples over campfire
Boiling water while we caramelize our apples is the secret to cooking the oatmeal quickly, without over cooking.

Once your pot is heated to medium on the stove (or the fire!), in goes the butter (Don’t worry, coconut oil will work great too, if you’re the non-dairy type), followed by the apples and the cinnamon. Allow those to brown slightly before finally adding sugar.

After adding the sugar, stir to incorporate until it is evenly distributed and begins to dissolve. When the sugar starts to bubble ever so slightly, it’s time to add half of our raisins, along with the boiling water. Why half? I like to let some of the raisins break apart to add extra sweetness and flavor to the liquid. Then, later on, we’ll add the other half, for a change in texture!

Apples cooking in liquid over fire.
That thar is some steamy, tasty oatmeal stock!

Now we’re just going to let the apple and half of the raisins stew in this sexy liquid for a sec, until the apples are semi-soft and the raisins begin to disintegrate, about 3-5 minutes.

Finally we’ll add the oatmeal in little by little, along with the other half of the raisins. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of liquid as you go. Honestly, the hardest part about this recipe is adapting it to your personal taste, which isn’t really that hard at all! Just add a little more water if it looks too thick, or allow to cook down slightly if it’s too thin for you. Same goes for sweetness. Add sugar or subtract, based on your preference.

Which ever way you like it, you’re about to be a happy, full morning person.*

*Absolutely unauthorized to make such a claim. Have not now, nor will I ever be a morning person, but the oatmeal helps.

apple, cinnamon, raisin, oatmeal, breakfast, camping, dutch oven, camping gear, campfire cooking
Sure, you could eat this in a bowl, but then where would your sense of adventure be?

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Recipe (serves 4)


1 medium apple, skin on, cored and diced

1/3 cup raisins

1.5 cups quick cooking oats

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (or coconut oil, for my vegan friends!)

1/4 cup brown sugar (more or less to taste)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

pinch of salt

3.5 cups boiling water

  1. Bring 3.5 cups water to boil in a kettle or covered pot.
  2. Heat dutch oven over medium high heat and add butter.
  3. Toss apples, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt into the melted butter and allow to brown slightly, 3-5 minutes.
  4. When apples have browned, add sugar to pot. Stir frequently to prevent scorching, until mixture is dissolved and just begins to bubble.
  5. Add boiling water to the pot, along with remainder of raisins. Allow to simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add oats a little at a time and cook until oats just absorb the liquid, or until desired consistency is achieved.
  7. Adjust sweetness to your taste and enjoy!
carabiner, camping utensils, gay, cookout, tools
Bonus gay points for enjoying your oatmeal with camping utensils that attach via carabiner!

On The Banks of the Gay Mississippi

Alright, so maybe there’s nothing inherently gay about the Mississippi, but we did happen to spend this National Coming Out Day camping and hiking at Mississippi Palisades State Park, on the Illinois side of the river, just a stone’s throw from Iowa.

It’s a significant day for us because, prior to last National Coming Out Day last year, we were just acquaintance-y friends from the Chicago Performing Arts community. Then, we saw each other’s social media posts, each broadcasting our out and proudness and began a several month online flirtship, culminating in finally, as luck would have it, playing a fateful gig together in December (that gig happened to be a live album recording of a world premiere musical and you can listen to me belt my face off/Rachel playing gorgeous cello here).

We began dating seriously almost immediately and, of course, with the pandemic, so came the U-haul. The rest, as they say, is them-story. So it seemed like as good a day as any to commemorate by scaling the face of a small mountain (yes, the very same big rock thing we’re standing in front of in this photo).

queer love, camping, hiking, National Coming Out Day
Sure, we looked super cute and happy before we climbed the mountain…

Now, I don’t want to over-represent my skillset here. When I say “scaling the face of the mountain”, what I really mean is, “losing the trail and just going off-road, grabbing ahold of whatever roots, rocks, or trees we could find, and continuing our ascent by any stupid means necessary”, or something like that.

I’m a crazy hiker from the old school. Losing myself on trails was how I initially started losing weight many summers ago in the Cuyahoga Valley National Forest and I was absolutely giddy to be losing myself in the woods again, especially since elevation of any kind is something sorely lacking on the Chicago landscape. I might have been a bit too gung-ho though, nearly giving Rachel a panic attack on the way up.

We definitely weren’t the only group on the trail with novice hikers among us. City folx seeking socially distant diversion had come to the state park in droves this weekend, pushing the limits of this natural space’s infrastructure. Some trails were too narrow for groups to safely pass each other, while some were simply poorly marked or maintained (see also: CLIMBING A FREAKING MOUNTAIN BECAUSE WE THOUGHT IT WAS A TRAIL).

And then I realized, this was a CCC park, meaning it was built largely by the Civilian Conservation Corps, an FDR-era New Deal Initiative that provided work AND housing for homeless, jobless, unmarried men (ok that part is sketchy and weird by today’s standards), while bolstering infrastructure and literally creating endless miles of trails all across the country.

state parks, civilian conservation corps, camping, hiking, illinois state map
Yes, I am 100% that person who reads every little plaque at the museum.

Interesting. With participation in outdoor activities at an all time high (I’m telling you, this campground was PACKED, y’all.), right there along with joblessness and homelessness, maybe we need A NEW CCC? Just a thought…

But enough of the boring history stuff (amirite?) and onto the reason I was most excited for this trip- cooking three square meals for 8 people on a dutch oven over a campfire, because I’m crazy like that.

one pot pasta, dutch oven, no-knead bread, garlic bread, campfire cooking, gemelli pasta
A jar of homemade pesto is the perfect addition to some pasta with fire roasted veggies. Served with Mark Bittman’s famous No-Knead Bread (baked in my own kitchen the day prior), slathered with butter and garlic, wrapped in foil and thrown into the fire.

Pasta was the perfect night one dinner. After settling in and unpacking, it was easy enough just to boil water and toss in some gorgeous gemelli pasta, along with pesto gleaned from the last of my window box basil, and an array of veggies roasted right on the grill plate! Mmmmm…. you can’t make pasta that tastes like this at home!

Campfire, fire roasted veggies, dutch oven, red enamel dutch oven, zucchini, peppers

Toss in a bunch of shredded mozzarella, get a whole roasted Vidalia onion from your friends at the campsite across the way, and you are in for a good time, my friends. Our full bellies surely made the ground an easier sleep that night!

campfire cooking, pasta, gemelli pasta, campfire garlic toast, no-knead bread, vidalia onion, fire roasted vegetables
The dirt under my fingernails all weekend was the sexiest part, IMHO.

BUT WHAT ON EARTH DID YOU EAT FOR THE REST OF THE TRIP, MEGAN? Relax, would ya? I’ll be back tomorrow with an actual recipe for my delicious Apple Cinnamon Raisin Campfire Oatmeal, but don’t worry, this is one you can easily make at home, though the process might surprise you!