“Heyyyy Daughter!!!!" - Neville Bullard
Neville George Frederick Bullard. Known to some as Mr. Bullard, Neville, George, Freddie, Crab, or as he liked to call himself, Neville, George and Freddie.
To me he was just Daddy – From Nassau Bahamas. The Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat fan, the Bank of Daddy when I was in college, the DJ, the line dance expert, King of the Crab Lounge, the bartender, the social butterfly, the artist, owner of the famous red and white cooler he always kept in his trunk, and of course Daddy the cook and lover of thyme.
It's been almost 9 years since he passed and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I actually started writing this post a couple years ago, and couldn't get through it without getting upset. But this year I feel better and can finally share my thoughts. His passing was one of the worst times in my life. Thanksgiving will never be the same for me. His death taught me me a few life lessons that I wasn't prepared for - planning a funeral, talking to your parents about estate planning,, making sure I had my will prepared, and the most important lesson - enjoy life while you are here - it can be gone in an instant.
Me and Daddy Over the Years
I saw Daddy two times in 2013 before he passed. In February, when my paternal grandmother passed, and in July at my sister Nichelle's 35th birthday party. Both times, whenever I looked at him, I kept having this strange feeling, that I could not explain and it was so strong that I had to shake it off. It felt like I was watching him in a movie scene after someone dies and they are showing clips of the person enjoying themselves during happier times. Now I know why I had that feeling. At Nichelle's party, Daddy had a ball, he made conch fritters, and his special rum punch. He was really in his element - dancing, talking to everyone, and just enjoying life. And that's the way I will always remember him.
He was a father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, devoted church member, friend, and a retired educator in the Miami Dade County School System. He had over 30 years of teaching under his belt and knew everyone there was to know. He was a proud father of five daughters (I'm #2), and he always bragged on us whenever possible. He loved to have a good time - Whether it was a good meal, (that he fixed himself), hanging out in the Crab Lounge (his garage), watching the Miami Heat or Dolphins play, or chilling out in the backyard. He was always the life of the party.
Daddy - The Line Dance King
Cooking was his passion, and I inherited that from him. He was always in the kitchen cooking up something. Whenever he was cooking and wanted us to taste the food, we got the "Hey - come taste this..that's good isn't it." We always looked forward to anything he cooked because it was ALWAYS good. My favorite dishes of his were French toast, chili and rice, THE BEST CONCH FRITTERS AND CONCH SALAD EVER, pigeon peas and rice, souse, and of course fish and grits.
But not just any grits. It was red grits.
Red grits you ask? Yes, red grits - Grits with tomato paste, onions, peppers, and seasoned to perfection. It was always served with fried fish, boiled fish, and if you were at the house for breakfast, it was served with boiled Garcia sausage. I never got his actual recipe, but I saw him make it enough times to make my own version of it, which is shared below.
Even though he’s no longer with us, he’s always with us in spirit. I know that he would be proud of all of us and where we are today. He taught me to enjoy life and make the most of it while we are here. Rest well Daddy.
This is my version of fish and grits...It will ever be his, but I tried. You can use any type of fish of your choosing. For this recipe, I chose to use catfish as it's my favorite fish. And since I am trying to be healthier these days, this recipe is for baked fish.
BAKED CATFISH & RED GRITS
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray baking dish with non-stick Spray
Clean fish and add to baking dish.
Gently sprinkle each seasoning on the fish.
Add a few pats of butter on the fish and place in the oven.
Bake the fish for 20-25 minutes.
Top with freshly squeezed lemon juice and hot sauce. (Optional)
Quick Grits (This recipe makes 4 servings)
1/4 cup chopped Yellow Onion
1/4 cup chopped Green Bell Pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Dice yellow onion and bell pepper into small pieces.
Sauté onion and bell pepper in oil on medium heat until transparent. For about 6-8 minutes.
Add tomato paste. Mix well and cook until combined.
Follow the serving instructions on the grits package and add water to the pot with the tomato paste, onion and bell pepper.
Let the mixture boil, and add grits.
Bring grits to a boil and cook according to package instructions.
Add seasonings to the grits.
Once done, remove from heat and serve with baked fish.