When Eric was in San Francisco a couple of months ago, he stopped for ice cream at a shop that happened to be handing out free vanilla beans as a promotional thing. What do you do with vanilla beans??
Well, it's funny how things work... Around that same time I discovered that my coworker who had infused bacon in his vodka also makes homemade vanilla extract and it's surprisingly simple. Drop several vanilla beans into a bottle of rum or brandy or vodka (we did rum). Then let it infuse for several months. Et voila! You can even keep the bottle going. My coworker has been using the same bottle of vanilla extract for years by adding more vanilla beans and rum as necessary. I guess his bottle is pretty crammed with vanilla beans at this point. Side note, you should check out his blog: FlavorGeek.