Thinly peel one lemon with a vegetable peeler. Be sure you do not include any of the white part. Dice the peel and combine with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup vodka. Pour lemon extract into a clean glass jar and set aside to steep for at least 3 days. Store it anywhere, and it will keep for up to one year.
Thinly peel 1/2 navel orange with a vegetable peeler. Be sure you do not include any of the white part. Dice the peel and combine with ¼ cup water and 1/2 cup vodka. Put orange extract into a clean glass jar and set aside to steep for at least 3 days. Store it anywhere, and it will keep for up to one year.
Split one vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from each half.
Cut the two halves into about 1/2-inch pieces. Add the pieces and the seeds to three cups of granulated sugar in a glass jar. Tightly close and store for one week, shaking occasionally.
Sieve the sugar as you use it, returning the beans and seeds to the jar. This may be repeated over and over for 6 months or so, until the flavor of the vanilla sugar weakens.
Use vanilla sugar to top cereals, french toast or fruit. Or add it to coffee or tea.
Gently heat one cup of mild vegetable oil. Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Stir to blend. Use to brush over grilled vegetables or fruits such as pineapple and papaya.
Other uses for vanilla:
A few drops of vanilla in a can of paint will help eliminate unpleasant odors. Rub it on your hands to eliminate strong odors like fish.
Slip a vanilla bean under your car seat to give the car a fresh aroma and help eliminate musty odors.
Add a teaspoon of vanilla to tomato sauces, chili and barbecue sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
In baking, cream the vanilla with the shortening or butter portion of the ingredients. The fat encapsulates the vanilla, preventing it from evaporating in the baking process.
For coffee liqueur you can use the following:
1/2 to 1 tsp. chocolate extract plus 1/2 to 1 tsp. instant coffee granules dissolved in
2 Tbsp. hot water. Can also substitute expresso, non-alcoholic coffee extract or coffee syrup.
These equal 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur or Kahlua
Substitue for Chocolate Extract:
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup can be used per 1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract in a recipe.
Homemade Chocolate Syrup
1 1/2 c. water
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. Dutch-processed cocoa
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a boil and whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup. Whisk until all of the solids have dissolved. Reduce sauce until slightly thickened. Strain and cool to room temperature. Pour into squeeze bottles. Squeeze into cold milk and stir for delicious chocolate milk or serve on your favorite ice cream.