Sunday, 21 July 2013

Hard work making money in the UK. Recipe: Insulin and Colcannon

Suddenly I remember how much easier it is to trade in the US than in the UK! My UK portfolio plods on sedately making me no money despite my best efforts.  That's not quite true. I have now completed the laborious backtesting exercise and have found  one, possibly two better unisearches.

But it's a week since I bought my shares and I'm still down 1.6% after costs. If I strip out costs and the ghastly THT I would be up 1.1% but those are unavoidable costs. I do not know whether, with a good stop loss strategy, I would have dumped THT before now. No Simulator, no proper backtestng, no decent strategy.

In the mean time in the US I got my buy signal on Thursday, I bought six shares that day and six more on Friday. (SOL, HSOL, III, UVE, GTN, EVC). Overall I have 7 winners and 5 losers after just 2 days. Profit after costs is 0.7%. There is no guarantee that this will continue but you must agree that it is a much better start.

I do have an idea for how to plug the gap left by the lack of the Simulator in the UK by concerted action by members of the user group. It would not solve the lack of a stop loss strategy but it would guide us to the best unisearches. Unfortunately I am not a natural organizer so someone else would have to drive the idea forward. Anyone interested in leading the exercise or participating should contact me.

Insulin and colcannon

I was first diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago. That is what brought me into stock trading all that time ago. I retired with far too little money and had to make the most of what I had by driving my capital very hard. So far it has worked.

Since then I have collected a growing band of chronic autoimmune diseases. It seems that each time my blood is tested another one pops up. I am lucky in that, so far, none has significantly cramped my style, except in the range and number of pills that I pop every night and morning.

The progress of my diabetes is interesting. I started with dietary control which kept excessively high blood sugar at bay for  six or seven years. Then I started on pills. They worked for another eight or nine years. All of that time I had to be very careful about what I ate and, latterly, when I ate. The big risk then, as now, was falling blood sugar which carries the risk of a hypo which starts a little like drunkenness and can end in a coma. Being caught driving with a hypoglycemic attack loses you your licence so it's no joke. 

A few months ago my poor old pancreas, the organ that produces the insulin that manages blood glucose levels, finally gave up its efforts despite the help provided by pills. I was put onto an insulin injection regime. I tried two daily doses of mixed insulin which helps most people who can't be bothered with a more complicated system. With good advice I was steered onto an alternative system where I take one type of insulin at night and another with each meal. This keeps tighter control of blood glucose levels and gives me far more flexibility. But it is hard work. You have to calculate how much carbohydrate you are going to eat at each meal and adjust you insulin dose accordingly. On the plus side you can miss meals if you want to, and occasionally have big ones with lots of carbohydrates.

Which brings me to colcannon. I have always loved mashed potatoes, a big no, no when you are managing diabetes with diet. And colcannon is a fabulous Irish version of this dish. I was inspired by a visit to the Aveyron in France where we were given aligot, a local specialty where the mashed potato is mixed with cheese and garlic. It was a little bit bland for my taste but that might have been the versions we were served.

Net result I came home, took the appropriate dose of insulin  and made colcannon.

It's dead easy. You cook peeled potatoes so they are really soft. Don't ask me how many I used. I had a bag left over in the larder and I used what I had left. Cut up, I guess, there might have been a dozen small pieces. I also had some left over carrots which I steamed over the potatoes for about half of the cooking time. I had grown a cabbage, one of those pointy ones, and cut that up and steamed it along with some sliced industrial sized spring onions for the last couple of minutes. 

I then mashed the potato with lots of butter and salt (I confess to a liking for Aromat as a supplement to salt). It's a Knorr product favored on the Continent especially in Switzerland .)

I whizzed the cabbage and carrots in a blender for a few moments and then mixed them into the potatoes. I served it with sausages and gravy but it would go equally well with lots of other things, or by itself, or even cold. (I shall give you my gravy recipe one day.) Great plaudits.

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