Tag Archives | Food & Recipes

Costco Cheeses That We Love

AUTHOR’S NOTE (4/11/2023): I wrote this blog post over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve started illustrating a story about a little mouse who is searching for her own cheese. You can read the first chapter for FREE right here.

Mr. Wetzel and I love cheese, and we also love a good bargain. This post gives a price comparison for the different cheeses available at our local Costco, and I also have some research to share with you on some of the cheddars available there.

The more I researched the cheeses available at Costco, the more I asked myself if an obsession with raw milk and natural, high quality cheeses is a designation needed solely for American creameries. It seems European creameries don’t care at all about marketing rBST free cheese. It is hard to find them boast of how much pasture their cows graze in. And forget about talk of organic or natural products.

American cheeses are a different story entirely. One look at a product page for Yancy’s Fancy cheeses, and you’re bombarded with stamps on each cheese package touting rBST free cheese. In America, we have to designate our cheeses as natural. Cheesemongers go to great lengths to let cheese lovers know they are local, small, artisan and care about the quality of their goods.

It leaves me wondering if the standard in America is over-industrialization, and if the standard in Europe is locally sourced, carefully crafted, artisan cheeses. In the USA, the bigger the brand, typically it is a sign of decreased cheese quality. Is this also the case in Europe? I will keep digging! For now, this is what I have uncovered:

Beecher's Flagship Cheese

We Love Beecher’s Cheddar Cheese!

Maybe it’s because Beecher’s is a Washington creamery, and we live 45 minutes away from their home base at Pike Place Market in Seattle. My favorite aspect of Beecher’s cheese is going to their cheese shop and eating fresh cheese curds. In their cheese case, there are dozens of cheeses from Washington and Oregon state creameries. Not only do they make great cheese, they respect it, seem it out, and share it with others.

The three types of Beecher’s available at Costco are:
– No woman cheese
– Marco Polo
– Flagship, 1 year aged

Facts from Beecher’s website:

All Beecher’s products have no rBST added – made exclusively from the milk from a single, local herd of untreated cows. (link)

No raw milk cheese. Beecher’s butter and cheese are made from pasteurized milk.

Beecher’s has a commitment to pure, fully-flavored food, and educating others about pure food (link). How could I expect any less from a Seattle cheesemonger than to be an educating activist? So fitting!


Yancy's XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese

We Love Yancy’s Fancy Cheddar!

The first time Mr. Wetzel and I tasted Yancy’s cheese was at the cheese festival in Pike Place Market, held once a year. After tasting dozens of free cheese samples, Yancy’s was one of our favorites, and one of the only cheeses we took home with us at the end of the day.

I was thrilled to find this cheddar at Costco. Yancy’s is a small creamery in upstate New York. Their cheeses are rBST free. Their cows are grass-fed; according to the website, Yancy’s is dedicated to “utilizing local milk supply, which offers some of the highest quality milk in the United States” (link).
In addition, Yancy’s uses raw milk in their cheeses, where permitted by USA laws (in three of their sharp cheeses, link). That’s right: you can actually buy a delicious, artisan, raw milk cheese from your local Costco superstore. Amazing!

The three Yancy’s cheeses available at Costco are:
– XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese
– Jalapeno & Peppadew
– Smoked Gouda


Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar

Who doesn’t love Kerrygold?!

I see it in blogs and I hear it from my friends: Kerrygold is a real winner. So, I want to include it in my list; however, I haven’t had it in a while. I keep buying other artisan brands. Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar is available at Costco.

Is the cheese made with raw milk? I don’t know. Is it rBST free? I can’t figure it out. Natural? Organic? No mention to be found. On their site, Kerrygold boasts, “We rely on a cooperative of small dairy farmers with centuries of cheese-making traditions to turn the rich, sweet milk that is produced into the finest cheese and butter in the world.” (link)


Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar

We Love Tillamook Cheddar!

Seriously. I know Tillamook is a big producer. They aren’t considered an artisan cheese company. But compared to other big companies, they do a lot right. And, If the budget is tight, a block of Tillamook can stretch a lot father than a wedge of another, higher quality brand.

Plus, it tastes good.

A lot of good details about Tillamook cow care can be found on their site. Here are the basics:
– The cows are not given artificial growth hormones.
– Tillamook does not require that their cows be pastured, but it is typical for cows to be let out to pasture during warm weather months (March through November)
– Antibiotics are only used when a cow gets sick and needs medical care, which sounds like an uncommon occurrence.

Here’s a chart of the cheeses currently available at our local Costco, along with their prices, followed by pictures of the cheeses. If you have questions or comments, or extra info on Costco cheeses, I invite you to please comment below!

By ekwetzel

A Story For Cheese Lovers

Do you like cheese? Then you’ll LOVE my children’s story:
Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese!

costco cheese chart

Beecher's No Woman Cheese

Beecher’s No Woman Cheese

Beecher's Marco Polo Cheese

Beecher’s Marco Polo Cheese

Yancy's Fancy Jalapeno & Peppadew; Smoked Gouda

Yancy’s Fancy Jalapeno & Peppadew; Smoked Gouda

Tillamook Pepper Jack

Tillamook Pepper Jack

Tillamook Colby Jack

Tillamook Colby Jack

Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar

Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar

President's Feta

President’s Feta

President's Chevre

President’s Chevre

Henri Hutin Brie Couronne

Henri Hutin Brie Couronne

English Coastal Cheddar

English Coastal Cheddar

English Stilton

English Stilton

Villacenteno Manchego Cheese

Villacenteno Manchego Cheese

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Champignon Cambozola

Champignon Cambozola

Le Delice de Bourgogne

Le Delice de Bourgogne

Emmi Le Gruyere

Emmi Le Gruyere

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Trader Joe’s Raw Milk and Pastured Cheeses

AUTHOR’S NOTE (4/11/2023): I wrote this blog post over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve started illustrating a story about a little mouse who is searching for her own cheese. You can read the first chapter for FREE right here.

Trader Joes Cheese Case

Trader Joes Cheese Case

Trader Joe’s has a large selection of cheeses, and their cheese is very affordable, compared to other supermarkets and specialty food stores.  My friend, Lydia, had a conversation with blogger Ann Marie (aka: Cheeseslave) on facebook discussing the cheese selection at Trader Joes. The conversation was so educational, I had to share it with you all. Today when I was at Trader Joe’s, I took pictures of the cheeses that they discussed. Below is an edited version of their back-and-forth:

LYDIA asks CHEESESLAVE: At Trader Joe’s I have the choice between raw milk cheese from cows not treated with rBST or cheese from grass-fed/pastured milk that has been pasteurized (Kerry Gold and New Zealand cheddar). Which is better?

Trader Joes Cheese Case Kerry Gold

Kerry Gold – Dubliner Cheddar

CHEESESLAVE : With no other information, I would go for the Kerrygold. You can ask TJ’s where there cheeses (and other products) come from — they always happily divulge the info to me when I ask. Ask them where the raw milk cheese comes from — which farm. I think it’s good to pester them about this stuff so they will be better about labeling.

Trader Joes Cheese Case New Zealand cheddar

New Zealand Cheddars

The New Zealand cheddar is good too. Grass-fed pasteurized cheese is better than raw milk cheese that is not necessarily from cows eating grass. They need the grass to produce the vitamin K2!

LYDIA:  That’s good to know. They do carry a few great European cheeses that are raw (Morbier, Comte, an Abbaye cheese, a cave-aged Tomme, and the Italian grating cheeses) and I assume those are probably grass-fed because Europe hasn’t caught up with the industrial farming. But the raw-milk cheddar is from New York. I’ll ask them about it – but it’s definitely pretty white in color.

CHEESESLAVE : I don’t think it’s safe to assume that the cheeses from Europe are all grass-fed.

LYDIA: I was inspired to do some research! Here it goes:

Trader Joes Cheese Case Parmesean Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano Parmesean Cheeses

Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano Parmesean Cheeses

Parmigiano Reggiano (which TJ’s sells at a comparatively reasonable price) may only be made from grass and forage-fed milk.

Grana Padano cows may be fed silage though-bummer, I guess the cheap price reflects the quality.

Pecorino Romano Raw milk cheese

Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano may only be made from milk of sheep who have grazed a particular combination of grasses and nothing else.

Raw milk cheese trader joes comte


Comte “cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage” according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it could certainly include grain.

Raw milk cheese trader joes Abbaye St. Mere Morbier

Abbaye St. Mere and Morbier cheeses

Morbier is only made in Jura mountain villages, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s at least partially grass-fed.

Abbaye St. Mere is made at Trappist monasteries-so I make a similar assumption. I have a hard time picturing monks shoveling silage into feed pens, but maybe I’m wrong!

I would suggest though that Europe does not have access to all the cheap corn, which our industrial farmers use with abundance as cattle feed, and there is a much greater sense of the importance tradition there. Certain cheeses and meats have to be made the way they always have been – right down the animals’ diets. *end conversation*

Trader Joe’s Raw Milk and Pastured Cheeses chart comparisonThank you Lydia and Cheeseslave for your insights into this microcosm of the wild and wonderful work of cheese. I created a chart to summarize the cheese choices discussed in this blog post. I hope to find more resources to guide buying decisions. Do you have a resource that explains or delves into the quality of cheeses? Do you know of a local creamery that does things well? Please, share your experiences!

By ekwetzel


A Story For Cheese Lovers

Do you like cheese? Then you’ll LOVE my children’s story:
Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese!

Continue Reading

Raw Milk in Tacoma

One of Three Jersey Cows at Meadowwood Organics

UPDATE: 4/3/2014

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I can’t believe how often I meet people in real life who tell me they did a search for “raw milk in Tacoma” and stumbled across this post! The raw milk scene has changed since I first wrote this post, and I’d love to share with you my NEW INFORMATION.

First of all, the Tacoma Food Coop is now open for business. They have EXCELLENT dairy options, including several different raw milk options for both cow milk and goat milk. Next time I visit, I will take a ton of pictures and create a new post dedicated to the Tacoma Coop’s current dairy options. Our favorite milk they carry is Blackjack Valley Farm’s raw cow milk, based out of Port Orchard, WA, which goes for approximately $5/half-gallon or $8/gallon.

In addition, Marlene’s has much better dairy options right now for both cow and goat raw milk.

I will try to keep this post up-to-date, but for the latest updates on raw milk sources, be sure to check out the newest comments below! And feel free to ask me any questions you may have!!

Thank you!


Raw milk is milk that has been neither pasteurized nor homogenized.  Mr. Wetzel and I want to drink raw milk from a local dairy for several reasons.  We want milk from healthy cows that are well cared for.  We want to support the local economy.  We want fresh, tasty milk.  We want the health benefits of drinking milk in its purest form.

For more technical information on raw milk, or to find leads on a dairy in your area, check out: Realmilk.com .

It is difficult to find a place to buy raw milk.  Most small farmers who offer it don’t advertise very broadly, if at all.  In order to find the farm where we now buy our milk, I asked around a lot until a lady who works at the CSA where we pick up our local veggies gave me the contact information for Meadowwood, LLC. This option works for us because it is only a 20 minute drive from where we meet for church on Sundays.  Here are the options for milk I have found in my explorations for alternative milk options in the Tacoma, WA area:


20228 SE 400th St.
Enumclaw, WA  98022

Milk is sold in reusable glass jars.  This is where Mr. Wetzel and I are now buying our milk.  They offer a cowshare program which brings down the cost of the milk.


17635 100th Ave SW
Vashon, WA 98070

Sea Breeze Farm has delicious milk.  The biggest problem for Tacoma residents?  They are on Vashon Island, a ferry ride away.  If you live in King county, you can buy from Sea Breeze Farm at a handful of farmers markets in the Seattle area.

Cows from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island

in Gig Harbor

Contact Chris Schlicht at (253) 884 7840

I have yet to visit this farm, but I earnestly want to.  ChristiPaul Farm’s greatest attraction for me is the fact that whenever you buy milk, you receive milk from only one cow.  Their milks are not mixed.  This is an overwhelmingly idealistic thought for me, taking real milk to another level.


2951 S. 38th St.
Tacoma, WA 98409

Marlene’s carries two raw milk options: cow milk from the Dungeness Valley Creamery and goat milk from the St. John Creamery, both in Washington.  While Marlene’s is the closest retail spot, the milk is noticeably less fresh and flavorful than the milks we have purchased directly from the farm.  Given the choice between Marlene’s raw milk and Golden Glen Creamery’s, I opt for the latter.


Available at Top Foods in Tacoma, or through Spud Seattle’s delivery system.

Milk from the Golden Glen Creamery is pasteurized, but it is not homogenized.  They make a variety of dairy products, including cheeses, butter and cream top milk.  We save our glass bottles from Golden Glen because they are easier to pour from than the glass jars our milk comes in from Meadowwood, LLC.

Photo courtesy of Golden Glen’s Facebook Page

Do you have a raw milk testimonial?  What resources for locating raw milk do you have to share?

By ekwetzel

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Making Yogurt Make Itself

The first time I experienced homemade yogurt was in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. It was around 1993, I was in middle school and my parents were in missionaries in the former Soviet Block country. We were in the Kotsakovi home, and my future sister-in-law’s mother pulled a bowl off the top of the fridge, removed the towel that covered it, and poured the lumpy white liquid into jars that went into the fridge. I remember eating long meals at the Kotsakovi house, filled with colorful conversation and dishes. Yogurt came out towards the end of the meal; we would add jam made from wild strawberries or blueberries to it as a dessert. The yogurt was tangy, fresh, and alive.

In America, a typical cup of yogurt pales in comparison. In our home, we have typically eaten Trader Joe’s Greek style yogurt or FAGE yogurt, and we use this thick yogurt also as sour cream. This week, I tried my hand as making my own yogurt at home, using FAGE as a starter & this recipe, courtesy of Michael Reeps. While Michael recommends waiting 7 hours, I waited 8.5 hours and the yogurt was still not thick enough for me. Next time I am going to try waiting 10 hours.

I tried blending a banana/vanilla yogurt for Mr. Wetzel, similar to the Banilla yogurt at Trader Joes that he likes. I blended a pint of yogurt with 2 bananas and a vanilla bean in my blender, after the yogurt had chilled in the fridge overnight. The yogurt came out watery and the flavor proportions were off; next time I will try to blend it before chilling in the fridge, and I will use 1 banana and vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean.

Recipe for Homemade Yogurt

By ekwetzel

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