I decided I was sick to death of paying an ass load of money for vanilla extract. I did a little researching and found out you can make vanilla extract and more often than not it will be better than even the expensive extract you buy in stores.
A bottle with a cap or one that seals and that can also fit 8-10 vanilla beans. (If you don't have a pretty bottle but you have a bottle of vodka or rum that's more empty than full. Perfect!)
vanilla beans (8-10. You can buy them bulk for cheap on eBay. Cost Plus World Market sells them 2 beans for 2.99 and they are good beans with a lot of flavor. Also, if you have ones that are in your sugar bowl or have used ones sitting around somewhere, those also work.)
vodka or light rum
vanilla extract for the base
In a bottle, add vanilla beans and about 4 oz of vanilla extract to make a base. Now add vodka or rum. Let it sit for a good month or two and there you go, homemade vanilla extract. Add more beans and alcohol periodically to top off the vanilla. The longer this sits the better.
I really wanted to make a custom vanilla so I mixed some Nielsen-Massey's vanilla and also added a little bit of vanilla extract (about 2-3 tablespoons) from Mexico because it has a tropical taste and is normally too different tasting to add in normal things like cookies. I used Bacardi Superior and a couple ounces of Flor de Cana Grand Reserve Rum from Nicaragua. BEST. RUM. EVER. I received this as a gift from a co-worker who has family there. The color and the smell are exquisite and I knew it would make this vanilla extract over the top. It did. Out of everything I have ever made on this blog this one is the most practical, useful, and easiest thing I have ever made.
*UPDATE: White on Rice has given me a heads up. Bourbon also works well for making homemade vanilla extract and Costco has a good price on vanilla beans.
Also, this is what I did. There are plenty of other recipes that call for splitting the beans, scraping out the seeds, or heating the alcohol. I didn't do any of that and my vanilla tastes great. Play mad scientist and come up with your own formula.