A Cook's Diary

Food: the perfect Christmas gift

casaveneracion.com Banana cake with streusel topping

If, like me, you’re tired of procrastinating between buying good-quality but expensive Christmas gifts and low-quality but inexpensive Christmas gifts, you might want to consider giving away boxed goodies sold through backyard businesses. Because these entrepreneurs do not have to pay high overhead costs like renting stalls or shops in malls, they can afford to keep their prices down and the quality of their goods high. Some of them offer door-to-door delivery; others only offer pick-up arrangements. One of those that offer door-to-door delivery for an extra charge is Toni’s Homemade Goodies. Just how did I discover Toni’s?

Karen Nina Danao is a Pinoy cook reader. As is my habit, when a commenter provides a URL to his/her own site, I check the site before approving a comment to make sure it doesn’t lead somewhere with girlie pics and things like that. So, the first time Nina left a comment, I checked out her site and, from there, I went on to read a feature story in the U.P. Diliman website. Nina had been baking and selling cookies and cakes on the side and her story simply amazed me. Toni, for whom the business was named, is her daughter. I went on to write an article about her and two other entrepreneurs that, I felt, would be an inspiration to anyone who wanted to start a small business.

So, anyway, I did write the article and it was published in December last year although I never had the chance to try Nina’s products. It didn’t matter to me at the time, because the angle of the story was entrepreneurship. You know, guts and resolve. Last week, I received an e-mail from Nina and she has started her Christmas run. I e-mailed back and placed my order. The baked goodies were delivered last night (the delay is my fault, not hers) and the box in the photo above contained a round banana cake with streusel topping.

casaveneracion.com Banana cake

That’s a slice of the banana cake above. Moist, soft and definitely not short on real bananas. The trouble with most commercial banana cakes is that instead of using the right amount of bananas, banana extract is substituted and what you get is a lot of bread that smells strongly of banana but without the corresponding texture that only a sufficient amount of bananas make possible. You won’t have the complaint with Toni’s banana cake.

casaveneracion.com Cereal bars

Above, the box of choco mint cereal bars.

casaveneracion.com Cereal bars

When I opened the bag inside the box, the first impression I got was nutmeg. Honestly, I felt it was a bit overpowering. But into my third bite, there was just the crunch and the cool feeling inside my mouth. Not toothpaste cool but a whiff of refreshing cool. Okay, I’m a huge fan of mint — I’m the kind of person who dunks Andes chocolate mint bars in my coffee — so the cereal bar experience was great.

casaveneracion.com Peanut butter cookies

Because I like reserving the best for last, that’s the bag of Outrageous Peanut Butter Cookies above. Outrageous, they were. With cookies that thin, I expected them to be crisp all the way. But they weren’t.

casaveneracion.com Peanut butter cookies

Towards the centers, the cookies were actually chewy. Marvelous! I mean, how do you do that with such thin cookies? Amazingly good.

You can check out Toni’s Homemade Goodies for the prices and packaging. The site seems to be down right now but you can check again in a while. I had a PDF file of the products and prices but I can’t find it right now. I do remember that a dozen Outrageous Peanut Butter Cookies costs P110 while the 10-piece box of cereal bars cost P125. The cookies and cereal bars come in different flavors. The cakes come in different flavors and sizes.

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