My first thought, ironically, is that I hope my announcement and Chow Down Atlanta’s announcement don’t collide. Best I can figure out, she founded her blog in late February, 2007 and mine was founded in late February, 2009. And when I began, I was probably inspired by Darla’s blog Snellville Eats, and wanting to say more than I could as a guest. As compared to politics, which divides, food brings people together. There are food bloggers whose politics I know I don’t share, but are wry, observant, smart people with plenty of humor. Food seems to bring out the best in people.

This has also been a year of changes. I was at my heaviest when I began this blog and my doctor said I had to lose weight. I lost 25 pounds before knee and foot problems did me in. Foot problems flared up again in February this year. I ended up in the hospital overnight for the first time since I was three, and afterwards knew pretty much I’d be fighting gout and blood sugar issues for the rest of my life. On the bright side, learning about this explains a lot of things I’d seen over the past two years, and exchange dieting just works. Since my foot hasn’t completely healed yet, let’s put this in perspective. I’ve just lost close to 10 pounds in less than a month with no exercise program at all. Think it can’t be done? No it can. It’s just tedious to do. If you log everything, count everything, you will lose weight.

Though exercise is a work in progress, I’m looking for ways to do aerobics without putting stress on my flaky leg. It turns out that some Gwinnett County parks have indoor swimming pools. The Bethesda Church Road facility, just south of the Bethesda Church Road and Ronald Reagan intersection, is one such facility. A county resident can swim there for a fee of $5.00 a day. My wife and I have also been shopping for bicycles. She grew up in a family where they all shared one bicycle. We haven’t owned bikes for a while, and we want to be able to ride together, once again. Because our cars are so small, we’ll need a bike rack before we ever buy a bicycle. So we’re shopping for bike racks as well.

In terms of dieting, as a rule of thumb, it’s unsafe to lose more than a pound a week. The obese don’t have that issue, but still, it’s better to plan on losing weight slowly rather than quickly. So, thinking ahead on those terms, and planning for a month or three of oops issues, it should take a long time to hit my optimum weight again.

That said, without monitoring my eating carefully, I just don’t eat enough when I diet. Unmonitored I seem to eat about 1,200 to 1,400 calories, and that’s not healthy for me. Cheese helps with this. Good choices to add calories and bulk to a diet are the high protein low fat cheeses. I’ve been fitting in Baby Bel light cheeses, as they have a good protein:fat ratio (6g:3g, similar to lean meat), and mozzarella sticks help as well.

I haven’t gotten the whole scoop, but I’m hearing that vinegar can help lower blood sugars. So I’ve been sprinkling red wine vinegars on my raw vegetables. It tastes pretty good, actually. Chocolate is something I can tolerate pretty well. I had one chunk of this at dinner without issue. 200 calories and 3 servings of fat are nothing to sneeze at, when you need to eat more.

Annual Retrospectives:

Most useful kitchen appliance: I bought a Cuisinart stick blender, and though the blender gathers dust, the very nice 2 cup measuring cup that came with it gets used for everything.

Kitchen appliance I really want to have: An oven safe skillet. “Ad Hoc” has me interested in pan roasting. I don’t know what’s good, but I look a lot at this pan during my off hours. I’d be happy to hear recommendations.

Best Place I Ate Last Year: This is probably a tie between Watershed and Indigo. Benny’s would have won this outright, had it remained open. But since I can’t recommend a place people can’t go to, I’ll recommend those two eateries.

Best Place to eat in Snellville: At this point, it’s probably Bonefish Grill. I don’t like the noise there, but the seafood is awesome.

Best Place to drink in Snellville: Summit’s Wayside Tavern. In my opinion, it’s the best place to drink east of the Brick Store Pub.

Best Burger Last year: With all due respect to the American wagyu burger at Summits, the best I had was the burger at the Vortex in Little Five Points.

Sexiest Eatery Last Year: Mitra. My daughter turned off her iPod and sang along to the music there. Just get rid of the overly hip men with blue lasers in their bluetooth headsets and it would have been perfect.

Biggest Surprise of the year: That a cousin of mine would have been married to a man who had a winery. Larry Tiberia’s Barking Rocks Winery was a pleasure to see and tour.

Funniest Food Blogging in Georgia: I’d call this a tie between Savannah Red’s “road rage” review of Fellini’s Pizza and almost any comment Live to Feast starts making when he compares a cut of steak to his beloved ribeye with bone in. Red’s review may be an acquired taste, but it captures simultaneously the anger and embarrassment at the anger when people get mad on the road. And Red, taking the kinds of enormous risks he does when he writes, manages to tie it all to a pretty decent review of the restaurant. Not to be ignored are Foodie Buddha’s “finds”. The Rubic’s Cubewich was precious.

Grateful for the Reunion: Meeting my uncles, cousins and their descendants in Granbury, Texas was worth every second of that drive, even if I lost my brakes part way through Texas on the way home. Did you know they named the basketball court in Granbury High School after my aunt?

Grateful for their hospitality: This goes to Lindsay Z, for hosting the party at FAB, and to BuHi, for his small party in the Chinatown food court. Gracious hosts. I have nothing but gratitude for their efforts in this regard.

There are probably a dozen other bloggers I should mention, but subtle and grow on you are people like Amy, Jimmy and Sean. I’ve never met Hardy, perhaps some time when I’ve grown comfortable again around alcohol. Patagonian Toothfish, you’re not on the side bar but it will happen. To the rest of you, best wishes, and a happy 2010.