New Sustainable You: Winter Holiday Edition

The New Sustainable You is a Zoom program hosted by the Yonkers Public Library and presented by Crestwood branch staff member Jackie Leone. This program is brought to you in collaboration with Friends of Crestwood Library, Yonkers NNORC, WJCS, City Of Yonkers Office of the Aging and Westchester County Legislator Ruth Walter.

The most recent discussion (on December 8) focused on food prepping for baking, sustainable baking tools, Furoshiki cloth gift wrap, reusing brown paper from deliveries, repurposing yummy leftovers, and making decorations out of materials found in the home. 

The next program will be Wednesday, January 12 from 1-2 pm via ZOOM. To join the Zoom Meeting, go to this link:
Meeting ID: 873 2279 9582 Passcode: 541431
Dial by phone 1 929 205 6099  Meeting ID: 873 2279 9582

Jackie would like to share the following information from the Dec. 8 session:

Furoshiki Wrap

“Furo” and “shiki” means “bath” and “to spread” and has been utilized as a method for wrapping clothes, food, and presents for at least 1,200 years. It is a relatively low waste and low cost method for wrapping your Christmas presents this year. 


Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

yield: 6 SERVINGS prep time: 1 HR cook time: 1 HR total time: 2 HRS


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil


  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you want the sauce
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch or slightly larger pieces. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken.
  3. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until very hot and rippling. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.
  4. Cook for 20-30 seconds on each side until the crust is golden but the chicken is not all the way cooked through (this is where it’s really important to have a hot skillet/oil). Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a 9X13-inch baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
  5. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken. Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.


FAQ’s: see the recipe post for a ton of FAQ’s about this recipe (substitutions, etc).

Sauce: if you like extra sauce, double the sauce ingredients – pour half over the chicken and follow the recipe instructions; pour the other half in a small saucepan and cook the sauce on the stovetop at a simmer for 8-10 minutes until it reduces and thickens. Serve it on the side of the chicken.

Vinegar: often I’ll sub in rice vinegar for the apple cider vinegar for a milder/slightly sweeter flavor.

— from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe at

Homemade Hot Chocolate

The following recipe makes a large batch of Hot Chocolate mix. You can pack it up as a gift, or keep it in your pantry to enjoy on cold winter days.

Yields 12 servings


2 cups confectioners sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao)

2 cups powder milk or instant nonfat dry milk OR powdered coconut milk


  • In a large bowl, sift the confectioners sugar, then the unsweetened cocoa to get rid of any lumps.
  • Stir in the powdered milk and whisk well until everything is combined.
  • Add mini marshmallows to the container if desired. This can be kept in the pantry for 6 months.

To make individual cups of hot cocoa, scoop 3 tablespoons of mix for 12 ounces of boiling water. You may adjust it according to your personal taste.

Homemade Hot Chocolate with Ground White Chocolate

The following recipe makes a large batch of Hot Chocolate mix. You can pack it up as a gift, or keep it in your pantry to enjoy on cold winter days.


3 cups milk powder

2 cups powdered sugar

1 ½ cups cocoa powder

1 ½ cups finely chopped white chocolate or white chocolate powder

¼ teaspoon salt


  • Whisk together all of the ingredients If you are using the solid white chocolate chip, work in two or more batches. If you are including the solid white chocolate, work in two or more batches. Pulse ingredients until the chocolate is finely ground. If you are using the powdered white chocolate, you may whisk it or put it through a sieve.
  • Store in a large container.
Book titles mentioned during the discussion:
Cooking for Halflings & Monsters by Astrid Tuttle Winegar 
The Storyteller:Tales of life and Music by Dave Grohl 
Life Without Plastic by Jay Sinha 
Sustainable Minimalism by Stephanie Marie Seferian 
Web sources mentioned during the discussion: – Furoshiki – gelatin-free marshmallows – making gift bags from wrapping paper