One of the easiest things to make at home is vanilla extract. Most recipes call for the more common use of vodka and vanilla beans to make vanilla extract. While that makes a liquid that tastes just like what you buy at the store, I like making mine with dark rum. The rich aroma and mild sweetness really adds a nice fat vanilla essence to baked goodies. It is very very easy, and after you make your own, you won't ever want to buy bottles from the store again!
I make it in small batches, but you can easily double/triple if you want.
1 cup good quality dark rum (you can use a lighter rum if you prefer)
2 whole fresh vanilla beans
pint canning jar & lid
Put the rum into your canning jar. Slice the vanilla pods in half, and remove the seeds with the edge of your knife. Add the seeds to the jar. Plop the vanilla pod right into the jar alongside what you scraped off. Put the lid on the jar, and shake hard. Label the lid and put a date on it and place it in a dark cabinet at room temp. Let sit for a month minimum, shaking it from time to time. After a month, I start using it - and I keep the pods in the jar so that the flavor continues to develop. The flavor intensifies if you let it sit longer (3 months+). You can wait longer before using, but I find that I get the full vanilla extract aroma in a month or two!
I like the organic vanilla beans from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are plump and moist - not the hard dried out things you find at your grocery store - and their prices are great!