NPR Staff

The New England area where the Pilgrims first settled is cranberry country.

These early colonists likely enjoyed a version of cranberry sauce on their autumn tables — though it probably took the form of a rough, savory compote, rather than the sweet spin we're most familiar with.

For ideas on using this bitter red berry of the season in new ways this Thanksgiving, NPR Morning Edition's Renee Montagne turned to Chris Kimball, founder of America's Test Kitchen.

Happy Thanksgiving from Hidden Brain! All of the research in this week's episode is geared toward helping you have a happier holiday, with tips to help you avoid three deadly Thanksgiving pitfalls: overeating, over-shopping, and fighting with your relatives.

For appetizers, we'll start with two of Shankar's Morning Edition radio stories.

If you are turkey-averse, turkeyphobic or just bored with the bird, fear not. We've got some other main dish ideas for you.

"What I think is cool is to put a center roast on the table that comes from the woods itself: something wild, something home-hunted, like venison," Amy Thielen, Minnesotan and author of The New Midwestern Table, tells All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro. Deer, says Thielen, is "one of those secret underground proteins in the American meat-eating story."

Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas, recommends the podcast Crybabies, particularly the episode in which the hosts talk to comedian Guy Branum about the things that make him cry. For more great podcast recommendations, and another one of Martinez's favorite Crybabies episodes, visit

He's known for his starring roles on screens both big and small, but it's his lifetime role that inspired his latest book — that of a father.

Taye Diggs joined NPR's Michel Martin for a conversation about his new book, Mixed Me, which is inspired by his son, Walker, and focuses on a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

Interview Highlights

On what inspired him to write the book

Days of speculation and anxiety followed the Paris attacks. Then, last week, the Paris prosecutor's office confirmed that two of the suicide bombers did pass through Greece last month as part of the wave of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

In the U.S., the emotional debate about whether or not to shut Syrian refugees out altogether gained new traction in presidential politics.

In a run-down stretch of Chicago's South Michigan Avenue, miles from the museums and skyscrapers, an army of foot-high paving stones stand on shelves along the street. It's a handmade memorial to honor the young people who have died at the hands of the city's street violence. A name is written on each of the 574 stones.

But they are not just names to Diane Latiker.

It's common wisdom that families should avoid talking about politics around the Thanksgiving table.

But if you're reading this, you might be in an NPR family. And coming up on election year — with polls and gaffes every day — won't it be hard to talk about Car Talk the whole night?

So we turned to Miss Manners, aka writer Judith Martin, to ensure our etiquette's up-to-date this holiday season.

For Martin, the age-old rule, "don't talk politics," still stands.

When the idea to write a Nordic cookbook landed on Magnus Nilsson's desk, he was against it. He says it was offensive that someone would think all of Nordic cuisine could fit, let alone belong, in one book.

"The Nordic is a geographical region, not really a cultural region," says the author, who's also head chef at the Michelin-starred Faviken restaurant, 400 miles north of Stockholm. "It's too big, and too varied." (It includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and several groups of autonomous islands.)

He eventually came around.

Carly Simon was born into what looks, from a distance, like a charmed life: Her father Richard was the co-founder of Simon & Schuster, the family moved in glamorous circles, and she eventually came to record some of the most personal, poetic and popular songs of our time. But as she makes clear in her new memoir, there have been plenty of tumbles, too.