Using a sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise to expose the seeds. Tuck the beans in the jar or bottle and pour in the vodka. Close the jar, shake it a few times, and place it in a cool, dark space. Let the jar rest for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking it again once or twice a week. The mixture will get darker and darker over time. When the extract starts to run low, top it off with more vodka and shake again. Also, whenever you use a vanilla bean, don't hesitate to add it to the jar after you've used it. This will continue to "feed" your vanilla extract and it should keep forever. Vanilla Variations: Vanilla Sugar: Split 2 vanilla beans and scrape the seeds into an air-tight container with 3 cups granulated sugar. Cover the beans in sugar and tightly seal. Let the sugar sit for 2 weeks. Use just as you would use regular granulated sugar.
Vanilla Almonds: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract, add the almonds and stir to coat. Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and combine with mixture. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on wax paper and break into clusters.
Recipe courtesy of Kelsey Nixon