Carol Brzozowski has been a journalist since junior high school, when she was the editor of the school newspaper.
She went on to become the editor of the high school newspaper in Wyandotte, Michigan, and earned a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University with minors in psychology and political science.
After working for a newspaper during summer breaks, then moving to Florida and writing for the now defunct Hollywood Sun-Tattler, a Scripps-Howard newspaper, Carol spent eight years as a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune publication. While at the Sun-Sentinel, one of her responsibilities included writing restaurant reviews.
Carol says she became a freelance writer in 1991, raising her two sons as a single parent while writing from home. One of her writing projects included her book: “Empty Nest, Single Parent: Moving the Needle Toward a Repurposed Life.”
Do you believe that being a writer helps you enjoy or appreciate food more?
When I became a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, I heard a presentation from a former member of the Food and Drug Administration who made the point that Americans had healthy eating habits until the advent of convenience food and fats, sugar and salt. That drove home the importance of healthy eating.
As a freelance writer, I receive a great deal of press releases about the food-health connection, including mental health. Because I’m privy to so much information, it compels me to make the best choices, not only for myself, but to promote healthy eating to others.
I once did a story for Workforce magazine on the drawbacks of working remotely, one of which is resorting to unhealthy habits to cope with working remotely. That can include overeating or emotional eating. It’s something that always needs to be on our radar as writers (as well as other addictive habits). I find swimming, yoga and meditation to be healthier go-to habits in dealing with stress.
Do you ever grow or catch your own food?
I live in south Florida, and own a house on a quarter acre. I have an orange tree, a mango tree, an avocado tree and a carambola tree (starfruit). I grow lemongrass and bay leaves year-round.
I have two upside-down tomato garden containers in which I plant tomatoes and also herbs. I am currently growing rosemary, chives, basil and mint (fresh mint is great for making mojitos!), but when I go full throttle this fall (our growing season begins in the fall), I’m preparing to grow more herbs and vegetables.
There is absolutely nothing like the taste of something I’ve picked fresh from my garden. As for catching food, when I have the opportunity to do so, I like to fish.
Do you focus on budget-friendly meals?
As a single mother who struggled to get child support, I had to create budget-friendly meals. But they were always sourced from fresh food.
My cooking skills have also been of comfort to me in the age of COVID. Like so many other freelance writers, I have seen my income dwindle as media outlets no longer have the advertising support they did in 2019. I may not be able to support my local restaurants right now, but my own culinary skills in creating a fantastic and nutritious homemade meal is part of what is getting me through this ordeal. In creating healthy meals, I’m doing my part to boost my immune system.
When I became an empty nester and before my boyfriend moved in with me, I continued to take as much care in meal preparation as I did when there were others living under my roof. I regard it as a sign of self-respect.
Do you search out local food?
We have a lot of farmers’ markets during the growing season (the winter here in south Florida) and I like to patronize them and share information about them on my social media platforms. I also enjoy visiting what’s left of our local farms that offer U-pick opportunities.
Since Florida is a melting pot of cultures, I have enjoyed the cuisines of our many ethnic groups here. I love going to local family-owned restaurants – eating there feels like eating with family.
And my favorite food? Good thing I live in south Florida, because it’s seafood!
Do you have any favorite cookbooks or kitchen products?
I own about 250 cookbooks. I enjoy collecting local cookbooks on my travels. Making recipes that represent different regions I’ve visited is a way to extend my experience well after I return home.
I also own an assortment of kitchen appliances and gadgets, including an Instant Pot, a Ninja air fryer, a Ninja coffee and tea maker, a coffee grinder, a Kitchen Aid mixer (with attachments for juicing, making homemade pasta, food grinding), two Crock Pots, a spiralizer, an Amish non-electric yogurt maker, an inversion blender, a sous vide immersion cooker, a rice cooker, a Cuisinart food processor, a pizza stone and paddle, a food dehydrator, an Oster blender, a Breville cold-press juicer, a Hamilton Beach breakfast sandwich maker, an Oster bread machine, a Waring Pro waffle maker, a panini maker, an electric griddle and a tortilla press.
Do you have any favorite food writers, chefs, or food TV shows?
I loved Anthony Bourdain and how his Parts Unknown program connected the world through food. His suicide came as a shock to me as I believed that he had everything that any of us would have wanted: to do food journalism around the world and connect with people in places that I still dream of visiting.
Where do you turn for great food or food inspiration?
I love seeing the food images that my friends post on social media. If I’m at a loss of what to prepare from something that I bought from the store or farmer’s market, I enjoy doing Internet research for recipe ideas.
What do you snack on when on deadline?
Trail mix or fruit. But I love the fact that because I work from home, I can take all day to prepare dinner and do it in stages in the eyeball breaks I take from my computer.
Anything you’d like to add about being a writer who loves food?
Every morning, I start the day with a cup of coffee I make in my Ninja coffee machine and a biscotti while I do a Sudoku puzzle online to kickstart my day.
As a writer, I find cooking to extend the creative process. Not only is food comforting, but the process to prepare it is as well. I also find preparing food a way to decompress from a stressful day.
My sons Adam Gardner and Jon Gardner are excellent cooks in their own right, surpassing me in many ways in their creativity and skill. They are huge fans of TV cooking programs.
My maternal grandfather was a dairy farmer in Pennsylvania. Every Sunday, my Aunt Ann would prepare homemade chicken soup, including homemade noodles. We’d all gather at the farmhouse for the soup and a chicken dinner. It was a simple dinner, but a way of connecting the family on the one day everyone would take time off from work to enjoy. I grew up with Sunday dinner being special, above and beyond the weekday dinners. These days, I endeavor to make every meal special.
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