Mikaela Cowles '08

Creative Writer and Creative Cook

Making Language Count

Mikaela CowlesAfter completing her undergraduate work at Saint Mary's, Mikaela stuck around and also got her Master's Degree in Fiction Writing from Saint Mary's, graduating in May 2010. Since then she has moved back home to Bellevue, Washington, spent sometime traveling, and started free lance writing for various clients.

Although she hasn't been gone long, Mikaela is happy to finally be working in her field of choice and applying what she learned on the basketball court to her own career. Her goal is to create a successful freelance writing business, which helps individuals and businesses put their thoughts into words succinctly and effectively. Mikaela's spare time is limited as she dedicates most of her time to working on her writing skills.

When she gets a chance, she enjoys playing basketball in a co-ed league, going for hikes, trying new foods, and hunting on occasion. Mikaela is wanting to plan a visit down to the bay area soon as time allows and is looking forward to making the drive down to Portland next week and watching the Gaels in their final regular season game.
Checkout Mikaela's website and blogs by following this link: http://baguettetastewonderbreadbudget.com/

From Court to Kitchen

by Suzie Iventosch of the Lamorinda Weekly

We are touting one of our very own this week. Mikaela Cowles, a contributing writer to the Lamorinda Weekly sports section, happens to be a very good cook! The former Gaels five-year scholarship basketball player is working toward a Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing at St. Mary's College. She is writing a fiction-style cookbook for her thesis, which she hopes to have published after graduation.

"The book is a collection of fictional stories," Mikaela explained. "I have a food element in every story and include a recipe with each."

Mikaela said the recipes come from a variety of sources, but some are recipes that her mom originally taught her and then she adapted to suit her own style. Others she learned to make on her own by researching the Internet or pouring through cookbooks.

"I wanted to learn how to make risotto, so my boyfriend bought me a risotto cookbook," she said. "I also went online to learn more about the dish. I like to explore online to learn about different food concepts."

Mikaela's favorite risotto is made with sauteed shallots, garlic, artichoke hearts and a tiny amount of Asiago cheese. Apparently she is not alone in her love of this dish, her friend and roommate, Julie McAvoy said this is one of her all-time favorite "Mikaela" dishes, too.

"Mikaela has always been a fabulous cook," Julie pointed out. "She is very inventive with recipes and invites her friends over to try them out. Her recipes are always delicious, but still, she is constantly coming up with ideas to improve them. I think my very favorite is her artichoke heart risotto."

Julie and Mikaela co-authored a book their senior year at St. Mary's to show college students how to eat and drink well - cheaply. The book is aptly named Work Hard, Party Hard and though not published, was a lot of fun for the girls to produce.

"We had tons of fun writing our book," Julie said. "It was supposed to show how to cook good food for college students on a budget. We not only talked about recipes, but also included dinner party games, the best way to find good wine sales and the staples to always have on hand."

According to Mikaela, one of their professors, Denis Kelly, has authored several cookbooks and after reading the draft, he put Mikaela in touch with different writers and cooking groups to get her more involved in the cooking world.

"He taught me a lot about how to format a cookbook, including recipe layout and introductions," she noted.

Mikaela is in her second year of grad school, and hopes to have her manuscript completed by March. She currently works at "across the way" in Moraga, a novelty home goods store that carries an eclectic collection of outdoor furniture, candles, dish and bath towels, barbecues and table wear, among other interesting household items.

"I'd love to write for a food magazine, but unfortunately, there is not a lot of money in writing, so I'm not sure," she said. "But, writing and communicating are vital for anything I pursue. After working in sales at 'across the way' who knows? I might like to go into high-level sales some day. It's really fun and challenging!"

Born and raised in Seattle, Mikaela plans to return to Washington after she completes her master's degree.

"I'm a Northwest girl!"

Mikaela’s Artichoke Risotto

(Serves 6 as a side dish, or 4 as a main dish)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 shallots, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15-ounce) artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice ¼ cup white wine 1/8-1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

Heat olive oil in pot over medium –high heat and cook shallots until translucent, but not browned. Add garlic and sauté just until fragrant. Then add risotto and cook for about one minute. Add wine, and continue to cook, stirring all the while, until liquid is evaporated. Reduce heat just a little bit, and add broth, one soup ladle at a time, stirring into rice, but then leaving alone until absorbed. Then add another ladle of broth, continuing the process until all broth is used. At the very end, stir artichoke hearts and cheese into rice mixture. Serve hot as a side dish, which Mikaela does, or as a main dish, as I did!