What's your ideal movie night set up? For me, 50% of the movie experience is about enjoying a great movie and the other 50% is about enjoying what I'm eating in the process. Ideally, we want to recreate the movie theatre experience with surround sound, big screens, and all of the nostalgic movie food. It's possible right at home and I'll show you how.
My oldest memory of going to the movie theatres was on Friday or Saturday nights and waiting in line with friends for the midnight showing of the week's newest release - back when a movie ticket sold for $3.25 even during peak times. I hope I haven't dated myself by sharing this memory.
Now, it feels like highway robbery at nearly $20 a ticket if not more for the premium movie theatres with servers taking your meal orders or IMAX screens movies.
I stopped going to the cinema for the last five or so years. Don't get me wrong. I know i'm robbing myself of that full cinematic experience. But being a healthcare professional, it's become growingly difficult to walk around on sticky butter-covered floors and imagining what else is on the seats that we share with countless others.
That with the inflated cost of movie tickets, I usually wait until the newest releases hit the online streaming avenues for rent or purchase. That's why I'm excited to share with you an at-home movie theatre night set up.
Let's just keep in mind that nothing will beat that cinematic feeling of how movies are meant to be watched - on a massive screen with sound coming at you in all directions while sitting in couch-like cushioned seating that reclines back for your comfort with a constant almost nauseatingly strong scent of buttered popcorn enveloping you.
We may not be able to replicate that in its entirety, but we can get close to that experience.
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Best Seats In the House
Some of my best movie memories from my childhood are good because of the entire cinematic experience from purchasing tickets that come with freebie popcorn coupons, walking over to the concession stand for snacks and drinks, and then looking for the best seat in the theatre with your friends.
The best seats were ones where you were right in the middle. The seats in the back rows meant you'd miss details that appeared too small. Sitting in the front rows meant you couldn't take the entire screen in one view so you have to look left to right and up and down while experiencing motion sickness. I've definitely walked out of the theatre sick after this horrible situation.
The great thing about watching movies at home is that every seat in your room is going to be the best seat as long as it's comfortable. Ideally, you have a set up like that in the picture above with a big screen television and surround sound.
If you don't have this but want to invest in something affordable for the experience, I recommend a small projector. The great thing about projectors is that they're very easy to move around from room to room, and all you need is a blank white wall to watch the projection. Nothing else is needed.
No extra frills are necessary because many of the quality projectors have a built-in high fidelity (hifi) stereo sound system, too.
If you have a large outdoor or garden space, you may even opt for a 17 feet large inflatable screen for a more extravagant movie night experience on the big screen. You can inflate it to use and then, deflate it and tuck it away in a closet for the next time.
Now that we've picked the best seat in the house, let's gather a few things we'll need to maximise our movie night experience.
Think about what will make this the most comfortable movie time.
Yes, those things that just came to mind are what we'll gather If you're a minimalist, don't worry about the optionals.
Things You'll Need
Throw Blanket - Something cozy in the case you get cold but don't want to interrupt the movie to get up.
Throw Pillow - Use it for back support or on top of your lap to put your plate of food on.
Sweats - I'm so glad that at home we don't have to wear going-out clothes like we would in an actual movie theatre.
Online Streaming* - One of the best ways to watch movies is through live streaming. You can rent, purchase, or watch movies for free.
Food & Drinks - The movie theatre experience is incomplete without these. The hot dogs, soft pretzels, candy, and iced drinks all make the movie night complete. I'll show you how to make these very easy movie concession stand foods below.
Netflix create their own original content so you can find a wide genre of movies that are very unique.
Amazon Prime Video also creates their own content, but they've been more popular with the TV shows. As far as movies go, they do have many old and new releases that you may not find on Netflix. So, take a look at these for your best movie choice.
Homemade Dairy Free Corndogs
In all honesty, I can't remember seeing corndogs at the movie theatres. Corndogs can be frequently found at carnivals and beach boardwalks. Usually, you find hotdogs at the movie theatres in America, but I find hotdogs to be a bit boring.
To put an exciting spin on a boring food, I decided to dip the hot dog in batter and make bite-sized corn dogs. It's much easier to make than I thought it would be.
I wanted to make only two servings so I used four hot dogs and cut them into halves. If you want to make more, you may need to double this recipe.
4 Hot Dogs (halved)
1/2 cup all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cornmeal
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tablespoon granulated Sugar
1/2 cup nondairy Milk (almond milk)
1 large Egg
Sunflower Oil, for frying
Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl - flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sugar.
Add the egg and nondairy milk to the dry mix and mix thoroughly. It should be a pancake-like batter that's thick but still drips.
Cut the hot dogs in half so that they are half their length since we're making bite-sized corndogs. If you want them smaller, you can cut each hotdog into thirds.
In a small pot, pour the sunflower oil to a depth of about 4 inches.
Heat the oil until it reaches 360°F (180°C), checking with a thermometer.
Skewer the hot dogs and dip the hot dogs in the batter one at a time.
Place the battered hot dogs in the oil until the batter turns a golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).
Remove the corndog from the oil and place on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil and let it cool for at least 5 minutes before eating.
I took my corndogs off of the skewers when I put them in the oil. You can leave yours on to make it easier to eat, but I prefer popping these into my mouth like french fries or tater tots. That's why I kept mine off of the skewer after battering it.
Now that we have hotdogs, or in this case corndogs, covered what's your next favourite movie theatre treat?
Mine has to be hands-down soft pretzels. There's no debating with me there.
I am a pretzel fiend. If I go to a music festival, biergarten, movie theatre, mall or anywhere else and they sell pretzels, I'll be the first in line to buy one. I can never get sick of it.
So, if you see me walking about around town, feed me a pretzel and I'll be your best friend. Are you with me here? I sure hope so.
I love the traditional American pretzels, the gigantic German pretzels, and my all time favourite pretzels growing up were from Auntie Anne's because of that soft, almost soggy but still chewy texture and that buttery sheen that got all over your fingers while you were eating it..
If you have no idea what I'm referring to when I mention "Auntie Anne's", please do yourself a favour and check it out when you're next near one in America. It's an iconic chain shop just like Krispy Kreme and Coldstone Creamery.
The idea of making pretzels always sounded pretty intimidating. I used to watch the employees at Auntie Anne's shape the dough right in front of me back when they first opened their shops in my town and I thought, "That looks difficult." But once I actually tried it out on my own, it's actually very easy.
I think I gave people too much credit. This is to remind you that even if you're a novice baker, you can absolutely make pretzels well.
Despite pretzels using minimal ingredients and bake time, it still requires time to proof (rise). So remember this when you're preparing for movie night - that you have to build in an extra hour in the middle of this recipe to allow the dough to rise.
You can always prepare the dough earlier in the day and then just come back to it when you're ready to pop it in the oven.
3 cups plain Flour
1 cups Bread flour
1-1/2 cup Water, warm
1-1/2 tsp active Yeast
2 tablespoon granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
For Water Bath:
2 tablespoon baking soda
2 cups Water