Evie and Emily are coming down with something, so in the vast nose-wiping marathon - where the finish line is a tissue, not a sleeve - I have not ingested anything other than a cup of coffee.
Until now. I'd give you the recipe for these chocolate chip pecan cookies, but it is not mine. You will find it conveniently located on the reverse package of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips. I substitute half of the butter for butter flavored Crisco (trans fats be damned!) and increase the vanilla to 1 tablespoon.
I am a vanilla whore. There, I said it. Luckily, I can get beans at a really low price (pathetically low, even... and they're excellent, fat, gorgeous beans.) I make my own extract... for those of you wondering why I had a few bottles of vodka laying about. Making your own extract is pathetically easy. I will never understand why someone will pay five dollars for a few tablespoons of the stuff when they can make a liter of it for about $15. It nearly lasts forever, but it does take a bit of time to steep. With my method, I've cut out some of the time altogether, so that your extract will be deep, dark, and delicious in no time.
20 Grade A Tahitian vanilla beans, divided.
1 liter good-quality vodka
A large glass container with a lid, or at least enough rubber bands to make a plastic wrap lid. Glass is important, because if you happen to use plastic, you may get some off-gassing and some funky flavors may ensue.
Chop 18 of the vanilla beans into 1-inch pieces. Reserve the remaining 2 beans. Pour half of the vodka into a food processor with the vanilla beans. Puree those bad boys as well as you can and pour it into the glass container. Keep the original vodka bottle and cap (we're all about recycling, folks.) Add the remaining vodka, cover, and let steep in a cool, dry, dark place for about 3 weeks. Strain the extract through a couple of layers of cheesecloth, squeezing the pulp to coax out any remaining extract. Vanilla beans will sneak into the mix. This is good. Pour the extract back into the bottle from whence the vodka came. Add the reserved 2 vanilla beans. I tend to store it for another few weeks before I use it, but at about halfway through the bottle, I'll start a new one.