"A lot of European cookie recipes use vanilla sugar in place of vanilla extract. My mother would make a large canister in August in preparation for her cookie baking season (between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas holidays)."
Pour the sugar into an airtight container. If the vanilla bean is whole, slice it halfway through the long way, open up the bean, and use a spoon or kitchen knife to scrape out the black gooey specks. Stir the specks into the sugar, and bury the bean pod in the sugar. Cover the jar and let stand for at least 1 week.