Use an app to create as clean of a background as possible.
Darcey, my assistant, found an app called CamScanner that allows her to scan an image or document and create a whiter background. For instance, if the recipe was on an actual recipe index card, she could remove say, a floral pattern on the background.
Print your recipe as the "mirror image" and on a laser printer.
You'll need to place your paper facing down on the wood, so you'll need it to be printed in the mirror image so that, when you lay it down face down, it looks "normal." I do not have a laser printer, nor do I have the ability to print in mirror image, so I took the scanned recipe to Staples and had them print for me. You'll also want to print on 20lb paper which (so I'm told) is the lightest weight paper available. Make sure your paper is cut exactly to what you want to show on the wood. If you have any marks in the margins that you don't want to be on the wood, make sure to cut those out.
Apply a medium layer of Mod Podge to the wood.
I forgot to take a photo of this step when I was doing the actual cutting board project. So, instead, I grabbed a piece of scrap wood that was already stained and am showing you on that. (By the way, I did stain my cutting board prior to doing anything else.) Don't apply too little of the Mod Podge and not too much. Too much could cause your paper to rip once you apply it. But, too little could cause it not to stick enough.
Lay your paper onto the wood over the Mod Podge.
Lay the paper writing side down onto the wood and press it down with your hands and a credit card or squeegee. Make sure to smooth out all bubbles. Anywhere that there is a bubble means that the design will be missing in that spot once you do the upcoming step.
Allow your paper to dry on the Mod Podge for 24-72 hours. I let mine dry for two and a half days. Here is where I remembered to start taking photos...
Dampen a rag thouroughly and ring it out (almost completely).
You need it to be wet but not soaking. Working in one section at a time, allow the damp rag to wet the section enough that you can start rubbing away the paper gently with your finger. You want it to be wet enought that it peels away in layers.
If it's not wet enough, you could pull the paper off in full chunks which could pull the writing off as well. That happened to me in a few spots, like on the very last word (which was supposed to be "rack"). I didn't panic. It was just a reminder that I needed dampen it a little more and slow down.
It took almost two full hours for me to remove the paper from the wood! Once I got to the bottom, I went back up with a slightly more damp rag and went over it all again, gently. It will be worth it for my friend who thinks the recipient will love it. And the mistakes kind of add to the charm and vintage appeal... at least I think so!
Finally, I did add 2-3 coats of Mod Podge (the same one I used to adhere the paper at the beginning) as a sealer. I brushed on thin coats and allowed dry time in between. You could also use something like Minwax's Polycrylic (available at lots of big box stores). It comes in several sheens. The higher the sheen, the more wipeable the finish is for cleaning.
Do you have a recipe or special note with which you'd like to try this? Have you done this before? Let me know - I'd love to see the final result!