1) To make vanilla extract: Slit the vanilla bean(s) lengthwise, enough to expose their seeds; don't cut them all the way through.
2) Place the bean(s) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour in the alcohol. Cut the bean(s) into pieces if not immersed in the liquid.
3) Cover with the lid, set the vanilla in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator), and let sit undisturbed for 1 to 3 months. When the extract has taken on a golden color, and vanilla aroma, you can remove the beans (save them for vanilla sugar), and strain the vanilla extract. Yield: 6 ounces (3/4 cup) vanilla extract.
4) To make vanilla sugar: Bury a fresh vanilla bean in your sugar canister, and leave it there until the sugar becomes aromatic.
5) Alternatively, save the beans that have been used for extracts, puddings, and custards. To recycle vanilla beans, rinse them off and let them dry at room temperature. Grind the dried beans in a coffee grinder or food processor. Stir the ground vanilla into 1 to 2 cups granulated or confectioners' sugar. Sift the sugar to remove the vanilla grounds before using, if desired.
6) Save the grounds! Add them to your brewed coffee in the morning. Place a tablespoon or more of the grounds on top of the coffee in your filter. Stir to mix. As the hot water drips through the filter, your coffee will be infused with a delicious vanilla scent.