Len Joyner enjoys cooking for a crowd

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

RURAL IVOR—Len Joyner’s wife, Joanne, says she doesn’t worry if she is a little late getting home to cook dinner if Len is there.

“He cooks as well as I do and has dinner started, if not already cooked when I get home.”

The two work in different directions — she at Farmer’s Bank in Windsor and he at Prince George Electric Coop. in Waverly — so often there are times when this happens.

But Joyner says he actually enjoys cooking, adding that he has been doing it since he was very young.

“My mom made sure that my two sisters, my brother and I knew our way around the kitchen before we were old enough to leave home.

“She believed that if we knew how to cook, we could always take care of ourselves.”

Joyner has not forgotten his mother’s advice and still cooks a lot like she did. He likes to experiment, however, and will sometimes use one of her recipes — which she and he memorized — and combine a few extra spices or flavorings.

Usually they turn out pretty good,” he said with a smile. “At least the kids haven’t complained.”

Joyner’s daughter and son-in-law, Hillarie and Edward Garner eat dinner with their parents every Sunday night.

The 49-year-old grandfather is in demand at community functions, if the event calls for a cook, added his wife. Last month he helped cook a huge pot of Brunswick stew for a Christmas party catered by the Ivor Rescue Squad’s Ladies Auxiliary for the Town of Ivor.

He also mans the grill for church outings, including an occasional church sponsored softball game. And he cooked the barbecue for a fundraiser to benefit one of his dearest friends, Dan Billups, who was injured in a motorcycle accident.

Joanne says he is at his happiest when he is making a big pot of chili, or soup for a crowd, though.

“The bigger the better.”

Once a year, Joyner has another big job as well. When the garden comes in, he picks the vegetables and immediately prepares to freeze or can them.

“We freeze 300 ears of corn and I can’t tell you how many packages of butterbeans every year,” he says. “Then we can tomatoes and green beans. It’s a big job, but it’s worth it.”

Although Joyner likes to cook, he likes to fish even better and always freezes his catch.

“Fried fish is my favorite food,” he said with a grin. “And when you catch them, you know they’re fresh.”

Name: Len Joyner

Age: 49

Occupation: Mechanic at Prince George Electric Coop. in Waverly

Favorite food: Fish

Least favorite food: I’m not big on sweets

What is the first thing you remember cooking? Garden pea pie — something like chicken and dumplings, but with peas instead of chicken.

What has been your worst cooking experience? I once burned a pound cake—forgot all about it. My mom raised such a fuss, I never did that again.

One ingredient you can’t cook without? Black pepper — gives foods a much better flavor.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? Don’t rush. Take things slow and easy.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? That would have to be my mom, Hilda Mae Joyner. She grew up on a farm when times were hard and she could take anything almost and make a meal out of it. She was an excellent cook and made sure that all four of her children knew how to cook as well. Even my wife, who says my mom cooked the best fried chicken she’s ever tasted, learned to cook from her. My mom’s thought was that “if her children could cook, they could take care of themselves.” We learned to cook like she did, and as a result, rarely use recipes. I even make up recipes like my mom did and they always turn out well. If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Probably fresh vegetables. I really enjoy them.

if you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried fish

len joyner’s homemade beef soup ingredients

3 pounds stew beef

1 qt. butterbeans

1 qt. fresh sweet corn

2 qts. tomatoes w/juice

4 med. potatoes, diced

1 med. onion, chopped

1cup celery, chopped

1 cup baby carrots

1 stick margarine

¼ to1/2 cup sugar

Salt and pepper to taste


Brown beef in frying pan with margarine. Remove from pan and place in crock pot.

Add all remaining ingredients except potatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook for four hours on low. Add potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper.

Cook on low an additional four hours. Serves eight.