Vanilla beans add great flavor to your recipes, but they can be expensive. When I find the beans on sale I normally stock up on a few. If you find your beans have dried or shriveled and you need to remove the seeds, put them in a bowl, put in enough half and half or cream to cover, and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes (do not boil). Remove them from the cream and they will be soft so you can split and remove the seeds. Save the cream as it is great in your coffee!