Homemade cooking extracts are a quick and easy gift for the baker in your life (even if that baker is you). With a couple of pretty glass bottles and 3-4 weeks of infusing time, they'll be ready to use in all kinds of recipes. You'll need:
* 5 glass bottles with lids
* An orange, lemon, 2-3 limes, cinnamon sticks, and mint leaves - one flavor for each bottle
* Sharp knife Cut the peel off of the orange, lemon, and limes in strips. Make sure you cut off the pith on the inner peel so that only the peel remains. Add each fruit peel to its own bottle. For the last two bottles, add 2-3 cinnamon sticks to one and several cleaned mint leaves to the other. Ensure the stems are cut off of the leaves.
Once each bottle has its own 'flavor' added, fill each to the top with vodka.
Allow to sit and infuse for 3-4 weeks, lightly shaking once every day or two. Keep out of direct sunlight. Watch the peels and leaves - when they begin to turn brown, strain the vodka out of the bottle to remove the peels/leaves and then put the vodka back into the bottles.
Use in cooking or baking - I've used these in cookies, cupcakes, and other recipes that call for flavored extracts with delicious results.
I also happened to try them in mixed drinks, out of sheer morbid curiosity. You know how awful straight vanilla extract tastes? Not so with these! I've added a splash (or four) to sodas and tonics!