It has been a good year for my wife and me. Recently, we decided to have simple homemade barbecued hotdogs and hamburgers.

We have to include American fries cooked with vegetable oil. It was a fun and exciting opportunity to teach my grandson, C.J., the process of safely starting a barbecue pit fire. I emphasized to C.J. fire safety and caution at all times.

I showed C.J. how to soak the mesquite firewood with starter lighter fluid and place it safely inside the pit. Letting the fluid soak makes for a slow starting burning flame that will not snap at you when you light it in the pit. I took a foot-long twig that had been soaked with a little starter lighter fluid and lit the tip of it to place inside the pit to start the fire, being careful to avoid an accident.

Soon, at least one of the mesquite pieces had a good flame. We proceeded to part two, which was to speed up the process of getting the embers or red-hot coals ready to cook. We used a small portable mattress air-blower for extra oxygen.

Using the theory that air flames the fire, we were careful to ensure distance from flames, assuring safety. Providing a direct flow of air current helps the wood burn hotter and quicker to achieve the red-hot coals effective for cooking barbecue.

I have a brother that lives in Bishop, and our work schedules and interests do not facilitate visiting time. I was telling C.J. that grandma and I were driving past Kingsville from a dental appointment. We would pass Bishop on our way back to our hometown. It would be an unannounced visit but I figured that for my brother I could make that choice.

C.J. listened intently as I expressed how easily we forget that even a doctor's visit to family is better than no visit at all. We arrived at my brother's dome home at dusk. They were having dinner, so our unannounced visit was brief but meaningful. My sister-in-law mentioned that people forget that sometimes a detour can turn out to be the right turn.

I got to see and speak to my brother in person instead of on the telephone on which we usually communication. C.J. smiled and I think we understood that it was another good family day.

Victoria walked outside close to the barbecue pit and asked: "Is the food ready?"

I gave Victoria a tour of the mouthwatering food on the grill and she gave her smile of approval.

"It looks good, Grandpa," she said before walking away in anticipation to let Grandma and her mom know.

The next thing I know, we were all sitting down enjoying homemade hotdogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings, including side orders of homemade fries. There is something distinctly different, appetizing and delicious about food prepared at home.

Restaurant food can be good and great. However, the treat of tender loving care in preparation of homemade mouth-watering food is awesome and magically delicious.

Joe-Santos Medina is a resident of Robstown. Readers may contact him via email at