Homemade vanilla extract! Its easy! And fun! And you can make massive (Costco) amounts for much cheaper than buying the good stuff by the 4-ounce bottle. This is a project I've been working on for a while now- and I hate that it took me so long to share it- but I've been patiently waiting for my vodka to get fully infused by the vanilla beans.
The best part about this recipe: the vanilla NEVER goes bad. It has a shelf life that will outlive each and every one of us. Use a teaspoon of vanilla in your cookies... replace it with a teaspoon of vodka... and it just keeps on working. I chose to keep a few vanilla beans in the bottles that I gave away as gifts so that they can keep giving flavor (especially while they sit in a wrapped box for the next 10 days).
2 cups of good vodka
10-12 vanilla beans*
1 glass mason jar
Run the mason jar through a hot dishwasher, or submerge in boiling water. Once dry and cool, pour 2 cups of vodka into the mason jar. Take the vanilla beans and split them lengthwise on one side of the bean (don't cut them in half), so that some of the beans are exposed. Place them in the mason jar. Close the lid and give the jar a good shake. Keep in a cool, dark spot in your kitchen, shaking once every few days/once a week. Oh, and each time I shake the bottle, I make sure to open it and smell... drooooool. Your vanilla should be ready to use after 8 weeks.
*You can add more vanilla beans if you want... the more you add, the quicker the vanilla will be ready to use.
** P.S. Mom, if you happen upon this post before December 25th.... well, I'm sorry part of your present wasn't a surprise. Ooops.