My photography is available over at #500px

I’m spending more time with one of my favourite hobbies again – photography. You can browse my published portfolio over at 500px. Be sure to share your feedback.

Picture of the snow in Seattle, Feb 2019.
A snowy Pike Place Market, Seattle, Feb 2019 – before my accident.
See more of my photography over at 500px.com/jamescallaghan

Fondue with friends

This year I will be welcoming in the New Year with friends at home in Manchester. The last year has undoubtedly been a trying year. A year that has seen much change and I welcome all the challenges and change that 2019 will see.

I considered all kinds of recipes and food I wanted to cook for my friends, but a fondue and raclette grill was a clear winner for many reasons. The elves at Amazon kindly delivered an extended raclette grill that includes a fondue pan, grill and twelve raclette grills. I was keen to encourage games and conversation at the table but also have something that would have longevity as with New Year’s Eve, the evening is long. Food that was easy on the washing up was essential, as was the amount of time in the kitchen for me. The fondue and crudités can all be prepped beforehand if not the day before. Additional with the raclette grill and a hot plate for the fondue, the warmth in the food can be maintained throughout the evening. As with a lot of my cooking I really enjoy the research element to recipes and food, finding out what works well and what doesn’t etc but also very much enjoy sharing my recipes.

Fondue and Racelete research.
Fondue and Racelete research.

I wish friends new and old the best of luck for what 2019 brings and I thank you for all that you have done for me 2018.

Food with great friends.
Food with great friends.

Continue reading Fondue with friends

Chicken and vegetable egg fried rice

Last week I enjoyed a lovely Chinese meal out on my birthday in great company. The restaurant was incredible, as was the food. I wanted to eat everything. What I did eat was like nothing else I have had before, but it was the most simple of dishes that really hit my taste buds. A week on and I wanted to make a meal of one of the plates and decided to give Chicken and vegetable egg fried rice a go.

Serves: 2 ½
Prep: 25min
Cook: 15min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice, cooked, drained and still warm
  • 1 large chicken breast, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 spring onions, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dashi powder
  • 1 tsp crushed chicken stock cube
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat the wok until hot. Add some oil and once smoking add the eggs. Leave them to whiten before turning and scrambling using a spatula. Add the diced chicken and cook until it is 90% cooked through. Add the carrots and onions and keeping mixing in. Now add the warm rice and break down any large lumps. Now is the time to practice the wok flick!

Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, the garlic, dashi and chicken stock. Once mixed add the unsalted butter and a handful of spring onions. Now add the soy sauce and sesame oil while continuing to combine the ingredients together. Leave to cook for a few more minutes before serving with a sprinkle of spring onions as a garnish topping.

Fried rice ingredients prepared in bowls on a tray ready for cooking
The ingredients can be prepared ahead of cooking

A full plate of chicken and vegetable fried rice

A bowl of chicken and vegetable egg fried rice
Chicken and vegetable egg fried rice

PS the restaurant was called Tattu in Manchester.

Research and Inspiration

Hey friends…I’m back…

My last post was almost two years ago – 7 February 2017. I was writing about SharePoint, Office 365 and me breaking into the scene of IOT, Sonos, HUE and generally hacking around with home automation. These topics have continued to be at the forefront of my world since then and remain close to my heart. And these topics are exactly where I plan to kick things back off!

It’s not to say I’ve had nothing to say, quite the opposite I’ve got a ton to share, but more that I didn’t have the time to post. Excuses, excuses and excuses they are but family, life and work have pulled on me beyond belief. But how have I let almost two years passed?

Well…I’ve had two migration projects. One of them was as badass as they get, taking me back to the world that was SharePoint 2003 for one of the worlds leading banks with an endless amount of complications and customisation’s that we had to unpick and reverse engineer. What a team it was and great friendships formed! Then there is this hugely aspirational and transformational Office 365 Modern Workplace agile project in the heart of the UK government that I continue to lead, and well you could say I am and have been pretty flat out. But that’s just work, it’s been the personal things that have taken their toll the most. Add managing and contributing to two house renovations, relocating from the South of the UK to the North. Then a relationship break-up for all of it to pretty much no longer exist. All that time, energy, DIY, cost and distance you do start asking yourself what was the point? For me, it is quite simple. One beautiful sparkling daughter and a new life outside all of this to create. My daughter is so deserving of all and any of my free time and attention. For all intense and purposes, it has felt like my hands and tongue have been pretty tied up.

For many years I reached certain lows. These last two years included. It is those around me, close and far that I needed the most but during these times I have pushed those I needed the most further away. And for that, I wholeheartedly apologise. For those in similar places. Please talk. However hard you may find it, please reach out to an old friend or family member. You’ll be surprised how many people out there who are willing to listen. A granddad like figure I grew up with also said present me a solution, not a problem when things were going wrong…how his words still stand true. In reflection. I dedicated myself to my family and work commitments too heavily and isolated myself away and alienated my friends and those close to me with silly excuses. I gradually felt that my voice wasn’t worth hearing and that I was somehow less significant than my peers. Slowly this amounts to a horrible feeling of low self-worth and degrades your confidence and any sense of authority massively. Mostly remote working and home renovations in the middle of nowhere often resulted in days passing with little to no contact. This isn’t healthy. Fact. I’m now pushing myself to visit the office more frequently and trying hard to break back into a rhythm of yoga, cycling again and time with friends.

Poppet. A term of great endearment and affection, used to describe in one word all the feelings of warmth, comfort, kindness, generosity, honesty and strength of character you feel every time you are with that person.
Poppet. A term of great endearment and affection, used to describe in one word all the feelings of warmth, comfort, kindness, generosity, honesty and strength of character you feel every time you are with that person.

Microsoft lovingly gives staff a holiday gift. This small amount of money is for us to donate to a charity of our choice, collectively this is a huge and generous donation. This year I am giving my gift to Mind and Shelter and also personally matching it. Thank you to Microsoft, my colleagues and my friends and family near and far for everything you do.

This week I was surprised and shocked to see an email from the Microsoft Ready team telling me that I have been selected to speak at the Microsoft Ready event in Seattle next February. My initial thought was one of fear and worry (it still is). Closely followed by, heck I’ve got to cancel this, but I’m determined to speak there. And friends far…I hope we find the opportunity to meet and enjoy time together! From Attendee to Speaker…flipin heck.

From attendee to speaker. Microsoft Ready speaker invite.
From attendee to speaker. My email from the Microsoft Ready team. 

While I have genuinely missed writing on my blog over the last few years, I’ve continued contributing to some of the most significant communities in the world (in my opinion). The joy and passion shared in these communities are one of the fundamental reasons I keep my blog alive and the drive for me to get back writing again.

I can’t wait to get writing and sharing with you all again, particularly about some subjects close to my heart: STEM, Modern Workplace, SharePoint modernisation and food!

Love and warmest Holiday Wishes.

James